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Printed by A. H. Bullen, at The Shakespeare Head Press, 



The Memory 




The genial reception given to my earlier book on the 
Elizabethan Playhouse has encouraged me to issue this 
Second Series of studies. My chief aim has been, as before, 
to throw additional light on the obscurities of the Eliza- 
bethan Stage, land to emphasize the remarkable vitality 
of its conventions by demonstrating how many of them 
contrived to wind their tendrils round the trunk of early 
picture-stage dramaturgy. We sometimes forget that if 
there have been growth and decadence since Shakespeare's 
time, there has also been a certain measure of continuity. 

No apology need, 1 hope, be expressed for the inclusion 
of one or two papers at the end which lie outside the 
scope of the main inquiry. They are the result of patient 
delving, and their existence is justified by the new facts 
they present. I have also thought it advisable to reprint 
in amended form in an appendix the chronological list 
of Elizabethan and quasi-Elizabethan theatres originally 
published at the end of my first paper in the earlier 
volume. Corrected by the light of the recent discoveries 
of Monsieur Feuillerat and Professor C. W. Wallace, 
this embodies the chief facts known to modern learning 
about the early playhouses. 

Of these studies it also requires to be noted that the 
third, fifth, sixth and eighth are now published for the 
first time. For permission to reprint the others I have to 
thank the editors of the various periodicals in which they 

viii Preface 

originally appeared. The first is taken from Englische 
Studien (1912), the second and fourth from Anglia (19 12), 
the seventh from the Dublin Saturday Herald (1913), the 
ninth from The Gentleman s Magazine (1896), and the 
tenth from Irish Life (19 13). All have been thoroughly 
revised, and one — the paper on "Early Systems of 
Admission" — considerably extended. Owing to the fact 
that the illustrations have been carefully selected with 
the view of helping to a clear understanding of many 
moot points, one or two of them happen to be familiar 
almost unto triteness ; but on the other hand the great 
majority are of a highly uncommon order and will prove 
new even to theatrical specialists. 

To Sir Harry C. W. Verney, Bart., my thanks are due 
for his kindness in causing a second search to be made 
in the Verney archives at Steeple Claydon for the missing 
seventeenth-century playbills, and for his generous per- 
mission, on their discovery, to have them photographed 
for reproduction. Although relegated by unfortunate 
necessity to the comparative obscurity of an appendix the 
facsimiles of these rare old bills form one of the most 
interesting features of this book. Mr. William Martin, 
LL.D., and the Editor of The Selborne Magazine and 
Nature Notes (with the courteous sanction of the Society 
of Antiquaries) have kindly lent to me the block of the 
broadsheet of England's Joy — the first block ever made 
from it. Indebtedness must also be acknowledged to 
Mr. Walter H. Godfrey for permission to reproduce two 
of his designs for a conjectural reconstruction of the first 
Fortune theatre. Lastly, it is once more my agreeable 

Preface ix 

duty to thank my friend and publisher, Mr. A. H. Bullen, 
for his careful reading of the proofs. 

May I venture to say, in conclusion, how much I 
appreciate the honour that has fallen to my lot of having 
two books printed and published in Shakespeare's own 
town and in a venerable old house with whose lineaments 
the Master from youth upward must have been thoroughly 
familiar ? If it should be conceded by the few competent 
to judge that I have added, however slightly, to the sum- 
total of existing: knowledge regarding the Elizabethan 
Stage, I shall deem myself fully rewarded for many years 
of ungrudging research and painful excogitation. 

W. J. Lawrence. 
Dublin, March, 191 3. 



Preface ....... vii 

I Light and Darkness in the Elizabethan — 

Theatre . . . v . . . i, / ~~ ^ r 

II Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage ( 23 - 

III The Origin of the Theatre Programme 55 

IV Early Systems of Admission . . 93 

V The Origin of the English Picture- , 

Stage . . . . . .119 

VI The Persistence of Elizabethan Conven- 
tionalisms ..... 149 


VII Irish Players at Oxford in 1677 . 189 

VIII Louis xiv's Scene Painters . . . 201 

IX A Player-Friend of Hogarth . .213 

X Garrick's First Appearance as Hamlet 227 

Appendices ...... 235 

Bibliography ..... 243 

Index . . . . . . .251 



Screen scene in the original production of The 

School for Scandal, 1778 . . . Frontispiece 

Frontispiece to The Tragedy of Messallina, 1640 . 28 

Mr. Walter H. Godfrey's Reconstruction of The 

Fortune Theatre (general view) ... 50 

Mr. Walter H. Godfrey's Reconstruction of The 

Fortune (transverse section) . . . 52 

The Plot of England's Joy. . . . . 68 

The Bill of Invidious Distinctions . . . 88 

The Swan Theatre . . . . . . 98 

Wren's Drury Lane, built in 1674 . . . 106 

La Chambre a Quatre Portes . . . .124 

Proscenium Front and Pictorial Curtain of the 

Pergola Theatre, Florence, 1657 . . 128 

Ballet of Furies in the Opera-Ballet of Ipermnestra 

(Florence, 1658) . . . . . 130 

Scene in the Opera of Ariane at the Theatre Royal, 

Bridges Street, 1674 ..... 140 

Interior of the Haymarket in 1807 . . . 143 

Fitzgiggo : a new English Uproar . . .147 

Scene from The Empress of Morocco . . .160 

The oldest known English Playbill (1692) . . 240 

Seventeenth-century Playbills . . . .241 

Light and Darkness in the 
Elizabethan Theatre 

Light and Darkness in the 
Elizabethan Theatre 

Writing of the characteristics of the rear stage in a recent 
paper on "The Evolution and Influence of the Elizabethan 
Playhouse," 1 I stated that "its employment was, to some 
extent, restricted by the remoteness and obscurity of its posi- 
tion, an inconvenience which almost invariably demanded 
the bringing-in of lights at the commencement of all inner 
scenes." Further study of this point, on the lines indicated 
to me in a private communication by my generous fellow- 
worker, Professor G. F. Reynolds, has convinced me that 
the latter half of the cited statement, despite the qualifying 
"almost", conveys an erroneous impression. I think now 
it may be taken as an axiom that lights were never brought 
in during the performance in either the public or the private 
.theatre with the prime aim of assisting the vision or suiting 
the convenience of the spectator. The conclusion to be 
arrived at when one has collected and scrutinized a consider- 
able number of stage-directions dealing with the bringing-in 
of lights (whether on the rear stage or elsewhere) is that 
they were brought in not as a matter^of necessity but of 
-illusion./ Almost invariably the presence of temporary 
lights on the stage indicated that the concurrent action was 
taking place at night. The obscurity of the rear stage, I 
have recently found reason to believe, was considerably- 
relieved by a window at the back admitting reflected light. 2 
Besides this symbolization of night by the help of lights, 
the convention may have had its degrees of illusiveness and 
signification in exterior scenes in accordance with the nature 
of the light employed. One gathers this from the reference 
made in Westward Ho ! ii. 2, to the various types of night- 

1 For which see The Elizabethan Playhouse and other Studies. First Series. 191 2. 

2 See under "Lower Stage Windows" in my succeeding paper. 


2 Light and Darkness in the Elizabethan ^Theatre 

walkers, "the cobbler with his lantern, the merchant or 
lawyer with his link, and the courtier with his torch". But 
as an ounce of practical demonstration is more to the purpose 
than a ton of theory, I shall abandon speculation and pro- 
ceed at once to cite examples from both public-theatre and 
private-theatre plays showing thafas a rule this introduction 
of lights was simply emblematical of the lateness of the 
hour. And first as to the vital point, the question of rear- 
stage scenes. To prove that lights were brought on behind 
as a matter of expediency, not of art, one would have to 
cite a goodly number of instances where the practice was 
followed in ordinary daylight interiors, or, in other words, 
in ordinary domestic scenes. This, I take leave to think, 
could not be done. So far as my experience goes, all artifici- 
ally-lighted rear-stage scenes, with one exception, are either 
night -scenes, scenes in churches before candle -adorned 
altars or scenes laid in obscure places such as tombs and 
dungeons. Even the exception, which occurs in Satiromastix 
(a Globe and Paul's play), can be explained away. Act i. 2 
opens with the direction, "Horrace sitting in a study behinde 
a Curtaine, a candle by him burning, bookes lying con- 
fusedly." The time is clearly early morning, for the poet 
says his brains have given assault to the Epithalamium for 
Sir Walter Terrel's wedding " but this morning" ; and a 
little later, when Crispinus and Demetrius Fannius knock 
at the door and get no reply, they express surprise that the 
poet is not yet up. It seems to me that the candle was made 
a factor of the scene to assist in conveying the impression 
that Horace had been in the throes of composition all night. 
The truth is the Elizabethans paid a good deal more atten- 
tion to the science of stage illusion than we give them credit 
for. In this case the conventional method of representing 
study scenes would not apply, despite the fact that literary 
labours, like the practice of the black art, were associated in 
the popular imagination with the burning of the midnight 
oil. A typical example of the conventional method occurs in 
Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay, Act iv, where we find the 
direction, "Enter Friar Bacon, drawing the curtains with a 

Light and Darkness in the Elizabethan Theatre 3 

white stick, a book in his hand, and a lamp lighted by him ; 
and the Brazen Head and Miles, with weapon, by him." l 

To admit that lights could have been used indiscrim- 
inately on the rear stage, wholly without relation to their 
appropriateness, would be to disallow the realism which 
accompanied their bringing-in in bed-chamber scenes by 
one of the principal characters and not, as in the generality 
of other scenes, by attendants. The force of this realism has 
been wholly lost upon some of our recent Shakespearean 
commentators, one or two of whom have contrived in edit- 
ing Othello 2 to weaken the potency of the Moor's opening 
soliloquy in v. 2. Nothing could militate more stubbornly 
against a clear understanding of this speech than the placing 
at the head of the scene some such description as "Desde- 
mona's apartment : a light burning in the bed-chamber ". 
The direction in Quarto 2, " Enter Othello with a light, 
and Desdemona in bed ", plainly shows in what manner the 
soliloquy was, and should be, spoken. Half the cogency 
of the passage beginning, "Put out the light, and then put 
out the light", is lost unless we conceive that the Moor is 
addressing the torch (" thou flaming minister") he holds in 
his hand. 

We have a bed-chamber scene of similar illusiveness in 
Love's Sacrifice, a late Cockpit play in which frequent em- 
ployment was made of lights. In Act ii. 4, Bianca comes in 
her night-mantle, bearing a candle which she sets down, to 
Fernando's bedside. In passing it may be noted that the 
previous scene, with its game of chess played by the light of 
tapers, clearly shows that, when necessary, artificially lighted 
interior scenes of ordinary domesticity could be given on 
the outer stage. 3 This is an important point, as one is apt to 
associate all such scenes with the rear stage. It affords still 
another proof that realism was the only purpose fulfilled in 

1 Mr. T. H. Dickenson, in his recension of this play in the Mermaid edition of 
Greene's Works, interprets this direction to imply that Friar Bacon was discovered in 
bed, surely an unwarranted deduction even although the Friar subsequently falls asleep. 
The curtains drawn here can have been none other than the curtains of the rear stage. 

2 e.g. the recension of the tragedy in the Arden Shakespeare series. 

3 Cf. A Woman Killed with Kindness, iii. 2 (as divided in Verity's recension of 
Thomas Heywood in the Mermaid edition). 

4 Light and Darkness in the Elizabethan Theatre 

the bringing-in of lights. Bed-chamber scenes, we know, 
were not always rear-stage scenes. Not infrequently the 
beds were thrust out so that their occupants might be the 
better seen and heard. Expediency could not have demanded 
the use of lights in such cases and yet we find them occa- 
sionally employed. Take, for example, that curious scene 
in the fourth act of Heywood's Red Bull play, The Golden 
Age, where the four Beldams enter £C drawing out Danae's 
bed, she in it," and then " place foure tapers at the foure 
corners." That the purpose here was one of sheer illusion 
is indicated by the subsequent direction, "Jupiter puts out 
the lights and makes unready." 

When we come to discuss the methods employed in pre- 
senting scenes of obscurity, not necessarily night scenes, on 
the rear stage, we shall find obeyance to a certain conven- 
tionalism. l Paradoxically enough, darkness was indicated 
by an increase of light. We note this in prison scenes, as in 
The Martyr d Souldier, iii. 2 (a late Cockpit play), where 
Eugenius is " discovered sitting loaden with many Irons, a 
lampe burning by him." Tomb scenes, which were invari- 
ably rear-stage scenes, were commonly signalized, although 
some apparent exception can be traced, by the bringing-in 
of torches, or by the presence of lights. Notable examples 
are to be found in Love's Sacrifice, v. 3 ; The Lost Lady, i. 2 ; 
and The Tragedy of Hoffmann, iv. 1. Church or Temple 
scenes might, in a sense, be denominated scenes of obscurity, 
but the lights used in these were illusive altar-lights. 2 

We come now to a vital phase of this inquiry, the question 
as to whether actual darkness was ever realized on the Pre- 
Restoration Stage, and under what conditions. In this 
connexion one must bear in mind that, although there was 
a certain standardization of effects in both classes of theatres, 
distinctions in convention might have arisen owing to struc- 
tural differences and the individual methods of house (as 

1 Just as in Masque scenes on the outer stage torches were almost invariably 
brought in at the beginning. Cf. The Cardinal, iii. 2 ; The Lover's Melancholy, iii. 2 ; 
A Woman is a Weathercock, v. I. 

' Cf. The Two Italian Gentlemen, Act ii ; The Broken Heart, v. 3. In the latter 
"two lights ol" virgin wax" were stationed on the altar. 

Light and Darkness in the Elizabethan Theatre 5 

contrasted with theatrical) lighting these gave rise to. It is 
obvious that actual darkness was by no means so easy to 
realize in an unroofed public theatre, depending upon 
natural light, as in a covered private theatre where artificial 
light was employed. For this reason we must be careful to 
consider the question, not broadly, but in its relationship to 
each particular class of theatre. In connexion with both, 
however, it may be admitted at the outset that one specific 
kind of darkness or obscurity, but not a kind, it is to be 
noted, associated with night, was certainly made manifest. 
Effects of heavy mist were illusively procured by the 
emission of smoke through a trap or traps. 1 The method 
employed is purely conjectural, but it is apparently indi- 
cated in Robert Wilson's comedy, The Coblers Prophecy 
(1594), in the direction, "from one part let a smoke arise. " 
That the device was utilized for other purposes besides mist 
effects is seen in the details of the dumb-show preceding the 
opening act ofTheDivil's Charter. A magician draws a circle 
on the stage with his wand, and from this arises a devil, amid 
"exhalations of lightning and sulphurous smoke". In the 
public theatres the offence, even to the stage stool-holders, 
could only have been temporary, but one wonders how the 
smoke was got rid of in the covered-in private theatres. 2 
Probably in the more select houses the objectionableness 
was minimized after the manner indicated in Ben Jonson's 
entertainment of The Barriers, as given at court in 1 606 on 
the night after The Masque of Hymen. At the beginning 
" there appeared at the lower end of the hall, a mist made 
of delicate perfumes ; out of which (a battle being sounded 
under the stage) did seem to break forth two ladies, the one 
representing Truth, the other Opinion." 3 How grateful 

1 According to Schelling {Elizabethan Drama, ii. 106) the device was of a very 
respectable antiquity. He traces it to the Roman stage, giving as reference Pliny, xxxi. 17. 

2 For evidence of mist effects in the private theatre, see the masque-scene in The 
Maid's Tragedy (1622), as acted at the Blackfriars. For other mist scenes see Jupiter 
and Io, in The Pleasant Dialogues of Thomas Heywood ; The Prophetess, Act v, dumb 
show ; Histriomastix, opening of Act iii 5 The Raigne of King Edward III, Act iv. 5> 
Philip's reference to "this sodain fog ". 

3 Henry Morley, Masques and Entertainments by Ben Jonson (Carisbrooke Library 
Series, 1890), p. 80. 

6 Light and Darkness in the Elizabethan Theatre 

on occasion was this mist effect can be seen by an intelligent 
study of Arden o/Feversham, iv. 2-3, where the illusion was 
useful in showing how Arden escaped for the second time 
from his would-be assassins. It is noteworthy that this 
pseudo-Shakespearean piece is a public-theatre play of circa 
1 590, a point on which I desire to lay stress, as it seems to 
afford evidence in an earlier scene that in the public theatres 
the darkness of night was never illusively realized. In Act 
iii. 2, Shakebag's opening speech, 

Blacke night hath hid the pleasurs of ye day, 
And sheting darknesse overhangs the earth 
And with the black folde of his cloudy robe 
Obscures us from the eiesight of the worlde, 

would be mere verbiage if the darkness had been otherwise 
indicated. That any attempt was made in such scenes to 
deprive the public theatres of their normal light, none too 
satisfying at the best, I unreservedly doubt. In this I am 
wholly at variance with Mr. John Corbin, whose belief in 
the manifestation of actual darkness has led him to theorize 
far beyond the limits of common-sense. l He would have 
us believe that the public theatres boasted a velarium, or 
cloud of canvas, that could be thrown out from the sur- 
mounting hut and extended over the theatre, when required. 
If such were employed, it is remarkable that no clue to its 
presence is to be traced in prompters' marginalia or else- 
where. In assuming the " shadowe or cover " mentioned in 
the Fortune contract to be a velarium of the movable nature 
he demonstrates, Corbin has clearly blundered. The shadow 
or cover was only another and less technical name for "the 
Heavens ", otherwise the half-roof, which plainly rears itself 
above the staire in the well-known Dutch sketch of the 


Swan. Here are the proofs. Heywood, in dealing with the 
Roman Theatre in his Apology for Actors (16 12), writes: 
" The coverings of the stage (which we call the heavens) 
were geometrically supported ". If we want to make sure 
what Heywood implies by " the heavens" we have only to 

1 See his article, "Shakespeare his own Stage Manager" in The Century Magazine 
for December, 1911, p. 267. 

Light and Darkness in the Elizabethan Theatre J 

turn to the Hope contract of 1 6 1 3, wherein it was stipulated 
that Katherens should " builde the Heavens over the saide 
stage, to be borne or carried without any postes or sup- 
porters to be fixed or sett uppon the saide stage ".* This 
stipulation was made because the Swan, upon which the 
new theatre was to be largely modelled, had (as shown in 
van Buchell's sketch) these undesired supports. Finally I 
take the Fortune contract to which Corbin pins his faith, and 
after first finding mention of "a shadowe or cover over the 
saide stadge ", I note later on the stipulation "and the saide 
frame, stadge and stearecases to be covered with tyle, and to 
have sufficient gutter of lead, to carrie and convey the water 
from the coverings of the saide stadge to fall backwardes ". 2 
Now, does Mr. Corbin really mean to tell us this gutter 
of lead was attached to his "cloud of canvas"? 

Elizabethan-stage night scenes can readily be divided 
into three classes : — ( 1 ) scenes where thelateness of the hour 
was indicated by some slight textual allusion, accompanied 
by the bringing-in of lights; (2) scenes of wholly unrelieved 
darkness, whether real or imaginary ; (3) scenes where the 
poignancy or humour of the action depended upon a sug- 
gested darkness, deftly accentuated by the momentary use 
of lights. Class 1 is readily differentiated from the others 
inasmuch as it deals with scenes of mere casual illusion. An 
apt illustration is to be found in Jack Drum's Entertainment, 
Act ii (a Paul's play), where a torch is brought on in a street 
scene to show the lateness of the hour, the text indicating 
that day is about to break. 3 Symbolic effects of this kind 
were common to both the public and the private theatres. 
Of Class 2 two typical examples may be cited. In The 
Dutchess ofMa/fi, v. 4 (as at the Blackfriars and Globe), the 
prevailing darkness leads Bosola to stab Antonio by mistake. 

1 Given in extenso by Prof. G. P. Baker in The Development of Shakespeare as a 
Dramatist, appendix, pp. 320-5. 

2 J. O. Halliwell-Phillipps, Outlines of the Life of Shakespeare (ninth edit., 1890), 
i. 304. 

3 For other examples see The Jeiv of Malta, ii. I (as at the Rose and Cockpit) ; 
Much ado About Nothing, Act v ; The Picture, iii. 4 (Globe and Blackfriars) ; Alphonsus, 
Emperor of Germany, i. 1 (Blackfriars) ; King Henry VIII, v. 1 (folio) ; Lust's Dominion, 
iii. 1 and 4. 

8 Light and Darkness in the Elizabethan Theatre 

Whether any diminution of light was effected in such scenes 
in the private theatres, it is at least certain that no alteration 
in the normal lighting of the stage took place in the public 
theatres. My second example clearly proves this. It is taken 
from The Iron Age^ Part II, a Red Bull play. Act ii. opens 
at night outside the walls of Troy. " Enter Agamemnon, 
Menelaus, Ulisses, with souldiers in a soft march without 
noise." In accordance with the arrangement for a signal, 
Sinon enters on the walls and waves a torch. Then Ulysses 
and his followers enter by the breach and immediately come 
on again through another door. They are now inside Troy. 
Sinon appears on the rear stage and unlocks the Horse. 
Then comes a direction showing that the darkness of the 
scene was not realized. "Pyrhus, Diomed and the rest, 
leape from out the Horse, and, as if groping in the darke, 
meete with Agamemnon and the rest." 

With that point settled we may proceed to consider the 
possibility of the actual manifestation of darkness in scenes 
of this order in the private theatres. It will doubtless suggest 
itself to the reader that the end might have been gained 
by extinguishing the regular stage-lights, but on second 
thoughts the clumsiness of such an expedient will become 
apparent. There would not only be the delay in putting out 
the lights but the delay in restoring them ; and all this 
frequently in the middle of an act. On the other hand, there 
is some reason to believe that, without any diminution of 
the normal stage-lighting, the house was slightly darkened 
at particular junctures. The evidence for this is the curious 
simile in Dekker's Seven Deadly Sins of London (i 606): "all 
the city looked like a private playhouse, when the windows 
arc clapped down, as if some nocturnal or dismal tragedy 
were presently to be acted." Here the impression to be 
gained is that in the private theatres light was procured as 
far as possible — one must remember that they were only 
winter houses — bv means of windows, and that in occasional 
dark scenes these were somehow shuttered. To clap down 
a window as we now conceive it would not be to obscure the 
light ; and one feels inclined to think that the windows 

Light and Darkness in the Elizabethan Theatre 9 

referred to must have been some sort of wooden contri- 
vances like the stall-windows in the old London streets. A 
temporary window of this kind was used in Arden of Fever- 
sham y ii. 2, and the accompanying stage-direction recalls 
Dekker's phrase : <c Then lettes he downe his window, and 
it breaks Black Wils head." 1 As to the conclusion derivable 
from the allusion in the Seven Deadly Sins of London, viz., 
that natural light was as far as possible pressed into service 
at private theatre performances, one is the more disposed to 
hold on to it tenaciously from the fact that its plausibility 
gains force from an equally curious, if somewhat later, allu- 
sion in Wither. In Fair Virtue, published in 1 622, we read : 

When she takes her tires about her 

(Never half so rich without her) 

At the putting on of them, 

You may liken every gem 

To those lamps which at a play 

Are set up to light the day ; 

For their lustre adds no more 

To what Titan gave before, 

Neither do their pretty beamings 

Hinder ought his greater gleamings. 2 

If I should be asked> " why limit the somewhat vague 
reference to lamps at a play to one particular kind of 
theatre?" my reply would be that proof of the employ- 
ment of artificial lights in the public theatres otherwise than 
episodically, as a factor of the scene, is not yet forthcoming. 
Wright's statement, made in 1 699 in his Historia Histrionica, 
still holds the field. He plainly tells us that while the private 
theatres " had pits for the gentry and acted by candlelight," 
the Globe, Fortune and Bull " lay partly open to the weather, 
and they alwaies acted by daylight." One can readily divine 
that this darkening of the private-theatre auditorium in 

1 In his account of the first Blackfriars, Prof. C. W. Wallace argues that when 
More complained of "the wyndows [being] spoyled " by Farrant in transforming the 
rooms into a theatre he meant that they had been bricked up. (See The Evolution of the 
English Drama up to Shakespeare, p. 146.) My interpretation would be that in adapting 
them for theatrical purposes Farrant had destroyed their utility as normal windows 
(i.e. for subsequent use when the place was turned again into a private dwelling). 

2 George Wither's Works (edit. Sidgwick, 1902), ii. 71. 

io Light and Darkness in the Elizabethan Theatre 

association with night scenes of our third order considerably 
intensified the dramatic appeal of the action. Here is an 
example taken from a later Blackfriars play, The Guardian. 
Act iii. 6 opens in a room in Severino's house. Iolante is 
seated on the rear stage beside a banqueting table adorned 
with tapers and is discovered by the drawing of the traverses. 
Severino, after indulging in violent threats, binds her and, 
taking up the lights, goes out. In the darkness Calipso 
gropes her way in, unbinds Iolante, and sending her away, 
takes her place : Severino returns, and, not knowing of the 
substitution that has been accomplished, cuts and slashes at 
Calipso with his knife. On his departure Iolante comes back 
and resumes her old position. The consequence is that when 
Severino returns (this time with a taper), he is convinced 
that a miracle has been performed. Not the most ingenious 
of modern melodramatists could have contrived a neater 
piece of theatrical trick-and-shuffle-board. But effects of this 
order, where much depended on the bringing in and carry- 
ing off of lights, were not confined to the private theatres. 
In the fifth act of Porter's Two Angry Women of Abington^ as 
performed at the Rose in 1 599, a good deal of the pungency 
of the action hung uponjudicious employment of thelights. 1 
It may be, however, that in the public theatres lighting 
effects were symbolical rather than realistic. 

When we come to consider what was the method em- 
ployed in lighting the private theatres nothing but disap- 
pointment ensues. Search as one will, no material evidence 
on the point can be found. Serious doubt may be expressed 
as to how far we are safe in arguing a posteriori from the 
misdescribed " Red Bull " frontispiece to The Wits^ or Sport 
upon Sport, as issued in 1 66%. It must be borne in mind that 
this plate merely depicts a performance of Cox's Drolls 
during the interregnum and after the general dismantling of 
the theatres. It may be that the lighting arrangements therein 
shown followed the system that had formerly obtained in 
the private theatres. But proof is lacking. Suspended by 
wires over the stage are to be noted two chandeliers, similar 

1 Cf. Greene s Tu Quoque lanthorn scene ; Tis Pity She's a fVhore > iii. 7. 

Light and Darkness in the Elizabethan Theatre 1 1 

to those formerly used in churches, and each holding eight 
candles. Along the front of the platform is ranged a row of 
foot-lights, consisting of half a dozen oil-lamps with double 
burners. 1 Now, although there is some reason to believe 
that stage chandeliers had been employed in the private 
theatres, nothing points to the use of foot-lights. Had the 
latter been a characteristic of the Blackfriars or the Cockpit 
they would surely have been utilized again with the renewal 
of acting at the Restoration period, and made a permanent 
feature of the new picture-stage. But we have no evidence 
of the regular employment of foot-lights in the English 
theatre until the third or fourth decade of the eighteenth 

The possibilities are that the lighting arrangements of the 
private theatres were based to some extent on the system 
followed at court when performances were given there, 
especially as the first house of that order, Farrant's Black- 
friars, was in the beginning a mere rehearsal-theatre for 
court plays. Happily, through the details preserved in the 
Revels Accounts, we know something about the lighting 
arrangements at Whitehall and Hampton Court during 
holiday periods. When we come to draw an analogy we shall 
have to bear in mind the difference in size between the com- 
modious banqueting halls and the small private theatres, 
and that, moreover, the players were not likely to emulate 
the grandeur of the court. At Whitehall and elsewhere, 
circa 1 573 (or about the period when the first private theatre 
was built), it was customary to light the halls during the 
Christmas festivities with wax-torches or candles, commonly 
known as " white lights," placed in flamboyantly decorated 
wooden branches of varying sizes, provided with broad 
metal plates to safeguard the spectator from melted grease, 
and suspended on wires. 2 These chandeliers were richly 

1 These are similar in appearance to the boat-shaped lamps used in the Italian 
court theatres of a slightly earlier period. Cf. Nicolo Sabbattini, Pratica di fabricar 
Scene e Machine ne Teatri (Ravenna, 1638), Chap, xxxviii. Quare, were the lamps 
referred to by Wither of this order and disposition ? 

2 For the method of suspension and of lighting up, which generally took place after 
the spectators had assembled, see Sabbattini, op. cit. Bk. i. p. 61, section on "Come si 
deffano accomodare i Lumi fuori della Scena." 

1 2 Light and Darkness in the Elizabethan Theatre 

decorated with orsidue, a kind of thick gold leaf, and when 
lit up, must have had a very imposing effect. They varied 
slightly in number, according probably to the size of the 
hall, but they generally consisted of about three large and 
twenty-four small branches, or an average total of a hundred 
and twenty lights, 1 and the candles were usually perfumed. 
From this lavish, highly ornate system only a slight hint 
could, at best, be taken. But, whatever may have been the 
method followed at a later period, it seems not unlikely 
that, in minor degree, the court method ruled at the 
first Blackfriars, the only private theatre whose seating 
arrangements approximated to the conventional disposition 
followed alike at Whitehall and Greenwich and the Italian 
courts. 2 In the lofty Elizabethan banqueting halls the 
spectators were mostly accommodated on a comparatively 
low amphitheatre ranged along the three sides. On the 
other hand, the accepted type of private theatre, beginning 
with the second Blackfriars, had three galleries, an arrange- 
ment which would have rendered any considerable number 
of central hanging lights a serious obstruction to the view. 
But it must be clearly borne in mind that the first Blackfriars 
was not a theatre at all in the Elizabethan sense of the term 
but merely what it affected to be in accordance with the 
crisis which created it — <£ a private house." The phrase 
clung and we find it afterwards applied, with less apposite- 
ness, to nearly all the private theatres. One must also bear 
in mind that the first Blackfriars, although situated in the 
same old building as the second, occupied a different part 
of that building, was smaller and less lofty. The essential 
difference between the two is that Farrant's Blackfriars was 
a second-floor house and Burbage's a first-floor house. 3 In 
the former, therefore, the audience must have been mostly 
accommodated on the level. 

1 Cf. Cunningham's Revels Accounts, pp. 162, 169, &c. 

2 Cf. Sabbattini, op. cit. Bk. I. p. 55, section on "Come si deffano fare li scaloni 
per gli Spcttatori." 

3 Cf. C W. Wallace, The Evolution of the English Drama up to Shakespeare, p. 196. 
I offer this in correction of my mis-statement at p. 233 of the First Series of these 

Light and Darkness in the Elizabethan Theatre 13 

It follows from all this that a new system of illumination, 
a system accommodated to the arrangement of the audito- 
rium, must have come in with the second Blackfriars, which 
ranks as the first organized private theatre. So far one may 
safely proceed and that despite the fact that of the precise 
disposition of the lights in the maturer private theatres 
nothing is really known. All that can be gleaned with any 
certainty is that candles of wax and tallow, torches, lamps 
and cressets were employed. The evidence for the use of 
cressets is slender but satisfactory. Cotgrave, in his French- 
English Dictionary , published in 161 1, defines Falot as "a 
cresset light (such as they use in playhouses) made of ropes 
wreathed, pitched and put into small and open cages of 
iron." Originally a beacon light, and so called from the 
croisette, or little cross, by which it was surmounted, the 
cresset was distinguished by its efficacy in withstanding the 
elements. For this reason cressets were used in the poops 
of vessels ; and in the mid-sixteenth century watchmen 
carried them on their nightly rounds, raised on poles. 1 Since 
they formed the most satisfactory of open-air lights one is 
disposed to throw caution to the winds and jump to the 
conclusion that their employment in the theatres was re- 
stricted to dark days in the Bankside houses. If this could 
be established Wither's allusion might bear a new interpre- 
tation. But it happens that we have some slight evidence 
of the employment of cressets in indoor entertainments of 
more than passing note. A description in Latin is extant of 
an academic performance given at Oxford before the Queen 
in Christ Church College Hall in 1566, from which 1 cite 
the following in Professor Schelling's translation: 2 

Cressets, lamps, and burning candles made a brilliant light there. 
With so many lights arranged on branches and circles, and with so 
many torches here and there, giving forth a flickering gleam of vary- 
ing power, the place was resplendent, so that the lights seemed to 
shine like the day and to aid the splendour of the plays by their 
great brightness. 

1 For an illustration of a seventeenth-century cresset, see J. R. Green's Short 
History of the English People (1893), iii. p. 992. 

2 F. E. Schelling, Elizabethan Drama, i. 107. 

14 Light and Darkness in the Elizabethan Theatre 

But this apart, one searches in vain for any evidence in 
support of Cotgrave's statement. Indeed, the few allusions 
to be found to the broad characteristics of private-theatre 
lighting puzzle by their disparity. Wither conjures up for 
us a charming picture of the "pretty beamings" of the 
lamps, but it is at best but a dissolving view and quickly 
gives place toLenton's vivid description 1 of the town rake's 

. . . Spangled, rare perfum'd attires 
Which once so glister'd at the torchy Friars, 

and which must now to the broker's. On further probing 
one is inclined to doubt whether either lamps or cressets or 
torches ever formed the dominant characteristic of the light- 
ing scheme in the organized private theatres. Pause is given 
because in Beaumont's lines to Fletcher on the failure of 
The Faithful Shepherdess at Blackfriars in 1 609 we read : 

Nor want there those, who, as the Boy doth dance 
Between the acts, will censure the whole Play ; 
Some like, if the wax-lights be new that day. 

It may be, of course, that the lights here referred to were 
strictly stage lights, but the point cannot be determined. 
Beaumont's last lines gives the impression that wax lighting 
was not the normal mode, and that it was reserved for 
special occasions, probably the first run of a new play, when 
advanced rates of admission were charged. We know defi- 
nitely that at Salisbury Court in 1639 wax and tallow were 
both employed. 2 Wax was the more expensive but it had the 
advantage over tallow that it neither guttered nor gave off 
an offensive odour. Hence one reason why a certain type 
of fastidious, feminine -minded playgoer would be more 
disposed to like the piece if the waxlights were " new that 

It will be interesting, perhaps suggestive, to recall what 
was the method of stage lighting in Paris at the Hotel de 
Bourgogne at this period. Here is what Perrault says on 
the subject : 

1 In The Young Gallants Whirligig (1629). 

2 Cf. Shakespeare Society Papers, IV (1849), p. 100. 

Light and Darkness in the Elizabethan Theatre 15 

Toute la lumiere consistait d'abord en quelques chandelles dans 
des plaques de fer-blanc attachees aux tapisseries; mais comme elles 
n'eclairaient les acteurs que par derriere et un peu par les cotes, ce 
qui les rendait presque tous noirs, on s'avisa de faire des chandeliers 
avec deux lattes mises en croix, portant chacun quatre chandelles, 
poure mettre au-devant du theatre. Ces chandeliers, suspendus 
grossierement avec des cordes et des poulies apparentes,se houssaient 
et se baissaient sans artifice et par main d'homme pour les allumer 
et les moucher. 1 

Here, one hardly knows whether it would be safe to draw 
analogies, but one thing at least the English comedians of 
the private theatres and the French players of the Hotel de 
Bourgogne had in common, viz., a constant and increasing; 
desire to economize with regard to the expense of wax and 
tallow. 2 Although playgoers had to assemble considerably 
before the hour of commencing, so as to secure good places 
or any places, little or no light was vouchsafed them until 
shortly before the play began. Proof of this is afforded in 
the induction to Marston's What Ton Will, as acted by the 
Paul's boys in 1601. Here we see the audience assembling 
before the performance, and taking seats upon the stage. A 
sequence of stage-directions shows that it was the tireman's 
business to look after the stage-lights and that delay usually 
occurred in bringing them in. "Enter Atticus, Doricus, 
and Phylomuse, they sit a good while on the stage before the 
Candles are lighted, etc., etc. . . Enter Tier-man with lights." 
This waiting until the last moment before lighting up is also 
indicated in the induction to Middleton's Michaelmas Term, 
as acted at the same house in 1 607. " 1 spread myself open 
to you", says a player; "in cheaper terms I salute you; for 
ours have but sixpenny fees all the year long, yet we dispatch 
you in two hours without demur: your suits hang not long 
after candles be lighted." Here we have adroit use of legal 
metaphor, in keeping with the title of the play. 

1 Perrault, Par allele des anciens et des modernes en ce qui regarde la poesie (1682), iii. 
p. 192. 

2 The parsimony of the French players in this respect grew so intolerable that, in 
November, 1609, Henri Quatre issued an edict, directing that lanthorns be put up in the 
pit, balcony and corridors under pain of exemplary punishment. Cf. Alfred Bouchard, 
La Langue Tbeatrale (1878), p. 304. 

1 6 Light and Darkness in the Elizabethan Theatre 

Besides attending to the stage-lights, it was the business 
of the tireman or tiremen (for in some theatres more than 
one was employed) to look after the wardrobe, 1 make the 
properties and place them in position, 2 and, when necessity 
demanded, come on the stage as supernumeraries. 3 If at 
Paul's, on Marston's showing, there was only one, the Black- 
friars of a later period must have had at least a couple. In 
the induction to The Staple of News , as acted at the latter 
house in 1626, the Prologue is surprised that the ladies 
should desire to sit on the stage. Mirth asks him for stools, 
but he calls for a form, and a bench is brought in. Then the 
book-holder within cries, "Mend your lights, gentlemen — 
Master Prologue begin." Agreeable to command, the tire- 
man come in, carrying (as an allusion by the Prologue shows) 
torches. Already the candle-snuffer, that important stage 
functionary whose expertness in the eighteenth century was 
generally rewarded with a round of applause, 4 had sprung 
into being. In the Pre-Restoration playhouse his duties 
were doubtless performed by the tireman. Thrift, in the 
Proeludium to The Careless Shepherdesse, as acted at Salis- 
bury Court circa 1629, makes allusion to the proverbial 
poverty of poets, and says : 

I do not think but I shall shortly see 

One poet sue to keep the door, another 

To be prompter, a third to snuff the candles. 

In connexion with the players' desire for economy in 
the matter of wax and tallow and the consequent delay in 
lighting up, one interesting point demands discussion. We 
know that at the second Blackfriars a concert of vocal and 
instrumental music, lasting an hour, was given before the 
play. 5 Are we to assume that the audience sat in darkness 
during that period ? It hardly seems likely. Probably some 
light was vouchsafed, but only a tithe of what was demanded 
by the exigencies of theatrical performance. 

1 See the reference in The Actors' Remonstrance ; or Complaint for the Silencing of 
their Profession, 1643 ; also T. F. Ordish's Early London Theatres, pp. 172-3. 

8 GirFord's Ben Jonson, v. p. 116, "An Expostulation with Inigo Jones" (1631). 

3 W. W. Greg, Hensloive Papers, Appendix ii. p. 134, margin. 

4 Cf. Dutton Cook's A Book of the Play, Chap, on " Footlights". 

C. W. Wallace, The Children of the Chapel at Blackfriars, pp. 106-7. 

Light and Darkness in the Elizabethan Theatre 1 7 

If a passage in Pepys' Diary can be taken as referring to 
the Pre-Restoration stage, we have some evidence to hand 
that tallow-lighting was the rule in the private theatres and 
wax-lighting the exception. Chronicling a conversation with 
Killigrew, the manager of the Theatre Royal, Bridges Street, 
Pepys writes on 1 2 February, 1667: " He tells me that the 
stage is now, by his pains, a thousand times better and more 
glorious than heretofore. Now, wax candles and many of 
them ; then, not above 3 lb. of tallow. Now all things civil : 
no rudeness anywhere; then, as in a bear-garden," &c. Here 
it all depends upon what the diarist meant by "then," whether 
the term applied only to the period since the renewal of 
acting or comprehended a wider retrospect. But, after all, 
if wax had been commonly employed in the closing years 
of the platform-stage era, Killigrew would hardly have 
indulged in his boast. 

Sources from which hints for special lighting effects of a 
spectacular order might have been obtained were apparently 
not drawn upon. In 161 1 Serb'o's great work on Architec- 
ture, originally issued at Paris in 1 545, was translated into 
English and published in folio. One of the sections on 
Perspective treats "Of Artificial Lights of the Scenes," 
discussing simple methods that recall those vast bottles of 
coloured water through which hidden lights shine resplen- 
dent in chemists' windows. But, except by Inigo Jones in 
mounting the Court masques, it cannot be found that any 
knowledge was derived from this source. It is noteworthy, 
however, that Serlio's methods of procuring the illusion of 
thunder and lightning were largely the methods employed 
in the English playhouse from its inception. (Students 
of the Elizabethan drama will not need to be reminded 
of the frequency with which thunder and lightning were 
resorted to for heightening the tragic impressiveness of the 
action.) For the rumbling of thunder he advocates the 
rolling of a cannon-ball in an upper chamber, 1 in part the 
method alluded to by Ben Jonson, in the prologue to 

1 Sabbattini discusses the modus operandi and gives an elucidative illustration, op. 
cit. Book II. Chap. 53. 


1 8 Light and Darkness in the Elizabethan theatre 

Every Man in his Humour •, when he speaks of "roll'd 
bullet" and "tempestuous drum". The rapid drum- 
tapping was a grateful auxiliary to the Italian method, and 
sometimes in the English theatres wholly superseded it. 
Thus, in a mordant passage in John Melton's Astrologaster^ 
or the Figure Caster (1620), we read : 

Another will foretell lightning and thunder that shall happen 
such a day, when there are no such inflammations seene except 
a man goe to the Fortune in Golding lane to see the tragedie of 
Doctor Faustus. There indeed a man may behold shagge-hayr'd 
devills runne roaring over the stage with squibs in their mouths, 
while drummers make thunder in the tyring-house, and the twelve 
penny hirelings make artificial lightning in their heavens. 

Serlio's method of simulating lightning is again largely 
the Elizabethan method. He writes : 

There must be a man placed behind the Scene or Scaffold inahigh 
place with a bore in his hand, the cover whereof must be full with 
holes, and in the middle of that place there shall be a burning candle 
placed, the bore must be filled with powder of vernis or sulphire, 
and casting his hand with the bore upwards, the powder flying in 
the candle will shew as if it were lightning. 1 But touching the 
beames of the lightning, you must draw a piece of wire over the 
scene, which must hang downewards, whereon you must put a squib 
covered over with pure gold or shining lattin, which you will; and 
while the Bullet is rowling, you must Shoote of some piece of 
Ordinance, and with the same giving fire to the squibs, it will work 
the effect which is desired. 

The earlier part of this instruction recalls a passage in 

the Induction to A Warning for Faire Women (1599), in 

which sarcastic reference is made to the staofe-lip-htninp- of 
i-i 00.0 

the period : 

. . . Then of a filthy whining ghost 
Lapt in some foul sheet or a leather pilch, 
Comes screaming like a pig half stick'd, and cries 
Vindicta! revenge, revenge. 
With that a little rosin flasheth forth 
Like smoke out of a tabacco pipe or a boy's squib . . . 

1 Cf. Sabbattini, op. cit. Bk. II. Chap. 23 ("altro modo come si possa mostrare un' 
inferno"), where the device, considerably improved upon, is used for another purpose. 

Light and Darkness in the Elizabethan Theatre 19 

If the effect was as trivial as the writer would have us 
believe, it is curious that in the course of half a century no 
effort was made to improve upon it. In the epilogue to 
Lovelace's comedy of The Scholar 1 , as delivered at Salisbury 
Court circa 1636, allusion is made to "the rosin-lightning 
flash", as a feature that delighted the gallery. 2 

Serlio's device for what he (or his translator) calls 
"the beames of the lightning" is equated by Ben Jonson's 
"nimble squib", in the prologue already referred to. 
This effect was not, I think, a common accompaniment of 
storm scenes on the early English stage but was kept for 
occasions when thunderbolts had to be represented. 3 A 
notable example is to be found in The Brazen Age, a Red 
Bull play of the period of 1 6 t 3. Jupiter appears above 
and strikes Hercules with a thunderbolt, causing him to 
sink through the earth. A cloud descends over the spot, 
bearing a hand, and on re-ascending the hand holds a star 
which it eventually fixes in the heavens. 4 

A few other spectacular lighting effects, mostly procured 
by the employment of fireworks, remain to be referred to. 
The comet which Stowe 5 records as having been seen for 
a week or ten days in October, 1580, apparently gave rise 
to the convention of "the blazing star". My first trace of 
this occurs in The Battel of Alcazar •, as acted circa 1588. 
In the Dumb show given between Acts iv and v, Fame 
enters in the guise of "an angel and hangs the crowns 
upon a tree". Then a blazing star and fireworks are seen, 
and the crowns fall down. But the most remarkable 
example of the device occurs in The Birth of Merlin , a play 

1 The play was never printed, but the prologue and epilogue are preserved in 
Lovelace's Poems. 

2 In 1572 John Izarde, a wax chandler, was paid 22*., partly "for his device in 
counter-feting Thunder and Lightning in the play of Narcisses", when given at court 
by the Chapel Children. 

3 The latterday stage thunderbolt bears a vivid family resemblance to its Italian 
prototype. A squib descends obliquely along a wire and falls into an adroitly disguised 
tin bucket, to the inside of which the wire is soldered. When one adds that the bucket 
contains water one has said all. 

4 For a simpler example, see the last act of The Martyred SouUier. 

5 Annals (edit. 161 5), p. 687. 

20 Light and Darkness in the Elizabethan Theatre 

conjectured by Fleay to belong to circa 1 622. l In Act iv. 5, 
at opening, after the direction "Blazing star appears", we 

read : 

Prince. Look, Edol ; still this fiery exhalation shoots 
His frightful horrors on th' amazed world ; 
See, in the beam that's 'bout his flaming ring, 
A dragon's head appears, from out whose mouth 
Two flaming flakes of fire stretch east and west. 

Edol. And see, from forth the body of the star 
Seven smaller blazing streams directly point 
On this affrighted Kingdom. 

Later in the same scene Merlin expounds the symbolism 
of the star, reiterating all the details. Obviously it was 
not left to the imagination of the audience to conjure up 
visions of the nine streams of fire, and the whole effect 
must have been carefully visualized. 2 As a matter of fact 
there had been constant use of fireworks in the Elizabethan 
theatres from their very inception, and practice had made 
perfect. London even boasted specialists in the science 
of pyrotechnics, one of the most notable being Humphrey 
Nichols, who officiated in connexion with Munday's City 
pageant in 1 6 1 3. There was much catering for the tastes of 
the unthinking, and in Doctor Faustus the mob was more 
taken with the devils with crackers at their tails than with 
the sublimity of the poet. The Red Bull audience especially 
delighted in effects of this order, and one finds much mention 
of "fireworkes" and "fireworkes on lines" 3 in If It Be not 
a good Play, the Devil is in it, as acted there in 1 6 1 2. 4 

M arlowe had a keen eye for spectacular effect as betokened 
by the conflagration in Tamburlaine the Great, Part II, Act ii, 

1 See also If You know not me, you know nobody, Pt. II. (Heywood's Works, edit. 
Pearson, i. 292, margin) ; and The Revenger 's Tragedy, Act v. 

2 Of a similar but less striking order was the effect in The Troublesome Reign of 
King John (c. 1588), where, on the crowning of the King, five moons shone out of a 
cloud, by way of ill-omen. 

3 For a quaint allusion to " fireworks on lines", see the Page's simile in Marston's 
Parasitaster, or the Faivne (1606), i. 2. In J. White's A Rich Cabinet with Variety of 
Inventions, &c. (1651), instructions are given "how to make your fireworks to run 
upon a line backward and forward". 

4 See also The Brazen Age, passim. In one scene a Fury appeared covered with 
fireworks and in another Medea with similar trappings. 

Light and Darkness in the Elizabethan Theatre 1 1 

as well as by the curious scene in the succeeding act where 
the bodies are burnt in sight of the audience. In the ampli- 
fied version of Doctor Faustus published in 1 6 1 6 l there 
is a remarkable Hell scene which was probably not of his 
ordering but to which attention may at anyrate be directed. 
In Scene xvi, after the Good Angel has given Faustus a 
glimpse of Heaven, "Hell is discovered" 2 and its horrors 
described by the Bad Angel : 

Now, Faustus, let thine eyes with horror stare 
Into that vast perpetual torture-house. 
There are the furies tossing damned souls 
On burning forks ; there bodies boil in lead ; 
There are live quarters broiling on the coals 
That ne'er can die ; this ever-burning chair 
Is for o'er-tortured souls to rest them in ; 
These that are fed with sops of flaming fire 
Were gluttons, and lov'd only delicates, 
And laugh'd to see the poor starve at their gates. 

Viewing the frequency with which fire effects were 
employed on the Pre-Restoration stage, it is surprising 
that so few of the theatres were burnt down — only two 
in a period of sixty years. But probably many of these 
effects were not as realistic as they read. In The Rump, 
as acted at Salisbury Court in 1660 (one of the last of the 
quasi-Elizabethan houses) we have the direction in Act v: 
"A piece of wood is set forth painted like a pile of Faggots 
and Fire, and Faggots lying by to supply it." This was 
used to represent a bonfire. But illusions of this sort could 
not always be made. Many fire scenes had to be of the 
first order of realism. Flames were often seen to belch 
forth from the rear stage 3 or to rise through a trap. 4 
Dragons came on spitting fire. 5 In The Silver Age, iv (as 

1 Bullen's Marlowe, i. 323. 

2 An inventory in Henslowe'sZ>/tfry makes mention of a property of "Hell Mouth", 
but the above scene seems to have been acted on the rear stage. 

3 Alphonsus, King of Ar agon. Act iv 5 The Virgin Martir, v ; The Old Wives' Tale. 

4 A Looking Glasse for London and England ; The Tiuo Noble Ladies v. 2 ; The 
Silver Age, v ; Chapman's Caesar and Pompey, ii. 1. 

5 Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay. This type of monster was generally spoken of as 
" a fire drake ". Cf. Henslowe's Diary. 

22 Light and Darkness in the Elizabethan Theatre 

acted at the Red Bull circa 1 6 13) occurs an unexampled 
and unexplainable effect. After Semele is drawn out in 
her bed, Jupiter descends amidst thunder and lightning, 
with his thunderbolt burning. "As he toucheth the bed it 
fires, and all flyes up." Perhaps in some cases where flames 
flashed forth the rosin-lightning effect was the means 
employed. In conflagration scenes, such as that in The Fatal 
Contract, iii. 1 (where we have the prompter's marginal 
note, "The bed chamb. on fire"), it would be difficult 
to say how illusion was procured, but possibly the primi- 
tive Italian method was followed, and, to some extent 
improved upon. "Sometimes it may chance," writes Serlio 
in his section on " Artificial Lights of the Scenes," "that 
you must make something or other which should seem to 
burne, which you must wet thoroughly with excellent good 
aqua vitae; and setting it on fire with a candle, it will burne 
all over ; and though I could speak more of these fires, yet 
this shall suffice for this time." Sabbattini, writing ninety 
years later, can tell of no other way to represent a conflagra- 
tion. 1 It is important to note that we have clear evidence of 
the employment of this method in the Elizabethan Court 
performances. According to the Revels Accounts 2 there was 
provided for The Knight of the Burning Rock, as acted by 
the Earl of Warwick's men on Shrove Sunday, 1578-9, 
"Aquavite to burne in the same Rock" and "Rosewater 
to alay the smell thereof." Subsequently the effect of the 
flaming rock developed into a mild stage convention. One 
finds it recurring in Beaumont and Fletcher's Four Plays 
in One, as given at the Whitefriars circa 1608. 

If this inquiry should help to dissipate the popular fal- 
lacy that theatrical appeal in the days of the platform stage 
was almost wholly to the imagination it will have served 
a useful purpose. Not only was realism steadily aimed at, 
but in the public theatres there was frequent gratification 
of the mob in its taste for spectacular effect and "those gilt- 
gauds men children run to see". 

1 op. cit. Bk. II. Chap. 2. "Come si possa dimostrare, che tutti la Scena arda." 
3 edit. Cunningham, p. 146. 

Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage 

Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage 

Satisfactory in the main as has been the measure of our 
newly ascertained knowledge of the physical conditions and 
conventionalities of the Elizabethan playhouse during the 
past decade, there are still many knotty problems awaiting 
solution. To take a case in point : even among skilled 
workers in this particular field ideas remain painfully nebu- 
lous as to the precise arrangement of the upper stage. My 
own opinion is that this uncertainty is largely due to the con- 
tradictory evidence presented by the four authentic views 
of Pre-Restoration playhouses (the Swan, "Messalina", 
" Roxana" and so-called Red Bull prints) on the one hand, 
and the textual indications of a host of old plays on the 
other. The truth is that, in the tantalizing absence of 
definite data on many points, we have placed too much 
dependence on these contemporary views, and that, too, 
despite the fact that three of the number cannot be satis- 
factorily associated with any particular theatre. Of the 
fallaciousness of their testimony I hope later on to afford 
convincing proof. It needs first to say that the present 
inquiry has been undertaken with the view of dissipating 
existing haziness of idea regarding the prime characteristics 
of the upper stage, and that it concerns itself for the most 
part with a minute consideration of the employment of 
windows on the Pre-Restoration stage. Owing to the 
curious complexity of the subject I find it requisite to 
discuss it under the following heads: (a) The upper stage 
generally, (b) casements, (c) bay-windows, (d) windows 
with curtains, (e) grated windows, (f) conjunctive windows, 
(g) upper back windows, (h) lower stage windows. 

(a) The Upper Stage generally 

In all scientific reconstuctions of the Elizabethan play- 
house care must be taken not to argue too far from the 
particular to the general. While it is assured that from first 

26 Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage 

to last there must have been a certain broad standardiza- 
tion in stage arrangement, due allowances must be made 
for natural progression and for the elemental distinc- 
tions between the public and the private type of theatre. 
But I take it that certain features were fundamental and 
ineradicable, that they were common alike to all theatres of 
the platform-stage order ; and paramount among these I 
rank the tiring-house balcony and its accompanying window 
or windows. The conventional employment of both these 
adjuncts in the inn-yard stage of English theatrical history 
can readily be predicated. One has only to scrutinize the 
well-known view of the old Tabard Inn in Southwark, 1 so 
typical of its class, to see how the surrounding architectural 
disposition of the inn-yards must have suggested to both 
player and dramatist the employment of divers situations 
and stirring stage effects (afterwards so popular in the 
Elizabethan theatres), most of which were fated to disappear 
from the expansile scheme of English dramaturgy at 
the close of the seventeenth century. To the presence 
of the substantial gallery which circulated around at least 
two sides of the inn-yard and of the associated upper win- 
dows was doubtless due the origin of those wall-storming 
scenes in histories, and those serenading and rope-ladder 
scenes in tragedy and comedy, so frequent of occurrence 
towards the end of the previous century. What we require 
to recognize in dealing with the prototype, and what I hope 
to prove, is that the windows used for the most part in all 
the theatres of the platform-stage era were real windows, 
and not conventional make-believes. On this point some 
slight evidence is afforded us by the building contract and 
specification for the first Fortune Theatre in 1600, wherein 
it is agreed that " the saide stadge to be in all other pro- 
porcions contryved and fashioned like unto the stadge of 
the saide plaiehouse called the Globe; with convenient 
windowes and lightes glazed to the saide tyreinge-house. 


1 Reproduced in T. Fairman Ordish's Early London Theatres, p. 119. 

2 Cf. The Architectural Rcvieiv y April, 1908, xxiii., No. 137, p. 240, Walter H. 
Godfrey' 8 article, "An Elizabethan Playhouse," for complete text of the contract. Not 

Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage 27 

At this period the tiring-house window was so well known 
to playgoers and so generally employed that Middleton 
in The Black Book (1 604), in a passage of sustained theatrical 
metaphor, could make allusion to it : 

And marching forward to the third garden-house, there we 
knocked up the ghost of mistress Silverpin, who suddenly risse out 
of two white sheets, and acted out of her tiring-house window. 1 

The only sort of Elizabethan window out of which Mis- 
tress Silverpin could have spoken down was a casement ; 
and the casement was in all probability the normal type of 
early stage window. 

When we come to look for proof of the existence of the 
ilcony, or balustraded gallery, and the associated window 
[n the four old views of Pre-Restoration stages nothing but 
iisappointment ensues. Not the slightest indication of 
either can be found. One result of this misleading negative 
evidence has been that all reconstructors of the Elizabethan 
playhouse have boggled or bungled in the matter of stage 
windows. 2 In the majority of the old views the upper storey 
of the tiring-house is shown divided up into equal-sized 
rooms in which spectators sit. This too is surely fallacious. 
One feels confident that the upper storey was utilized out- 
wardly for a variety of other purposes besides providing 
seclusion for certain favoured spectators. There can be 
little doubt that the remarkable width of the stage in the 
public theatres was largely conditioned by the composite 
arrangement of the upper storey of the tiring-house facade 
and the number of services for which it was utilized. 3 Some 
of these characteristics can only be laboriously deduced by 
collating all the old directions dealing with the upper stage. 

all these windows and skylights were required, of course, for stage purposes. Some 
were in the outer wall and some in the hutch at the top of the building. 

1 Middleton's Works (edit. Bullen), viii. 24. 

2 Brodmeier and Wegener evade the issue altogether. Albright's two windows 
are mere curtained apertures over the entering doors. Godfrey shows real windows in 
the tiring-house but at an elevation above the " Heavens " where they could have been 
of no utility (see " The Scale Model of the Fortune Theatre " in The Architectural 
Review for January, 191 2). 

3 The stage of the first Fortune was 43 feet across, considerably wider than the 
proscenium opening of all latter-day theatres save two or three of the very largest. 

28 Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage 

It still remains to be demonstrated that the Pre-Restoration 
theatres had two entering doors giving on to the gallery. 1 
Consideration of this point must be left for another time as 
the problem is too intricate to be discussed in a paragraph. 
One other important feature of the second floor of the 
tiring-house is clearly indicated in the " Messalina " and so- 
called "Red Bull" prints. I refer to the upper inner stage, 
corresponding in position and utility to the lower inner 
stage, and, like it, fronted by double curtains. Albright, 2 
in basing his typical Shakespearean stage largely on the 
"Messalina" view, erroneously assumes the curtains cover- 
ing the upper inner stage to represent curtains obscuring a 
back window in the outer wall of the tiring-house. Luckily, 
in proceeding on these wrong lines he has, as we shall see 
later, stumbled on a discovery. One is not disposed there- 
fore to deal severely with his blunder while recognizing the 
necessity for its exposure. That the brick wall in which the 
supposed window is set is not the back wall of the tiring- 
house but a portion of the front is shown by the fact that it 
slants off backwards at either end, as if forming part of a 
projection. The curtains shown would therefore correspond 
with the upper curtains in the so-called " Red Bull " print. 
It remains for those who persist in maintaining that the 
curtains in the " Messalina " view cover a back window to 
show what utility such curtains could have possessed. One 
can only concede the presence of a back window on the 
upper inner stage by the necessity for lightening its dark- 
ness, a necessity that would be ever pressing. Night scenes 
were never indicated in the Elizabethan playhouse by dark- 
ening the stage but either by simple pretence or by the 
bringing on of lights. It might be argued, of course, very 
reasonably, that the back window of the upper inner stage 
was not in the outer wall of the tiring-house but in a 
partition in front of a back corridor for the players. 3 The 

1 Cf. G. P. Raker, The Development of Shakespeare as a Dramatist, p. 82. 

2 The Shakespearean Stage, p. 66. 

3 Basing to some extent on Albright, Mr. A. Forestier takes this view in his 
reconstruction of the Fortune Theatre in The Illustrated London News of August 12, 
191 1. For evidence favouring this assumption, see my section (g). 


Wt ■ 

, m ■ \fi ■ - 


ww^m trag p y ■**»*& 

FRONTISPIECE TO [To face p. 28. 


Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage 29 

assumption then would be that the back curtain was drawn 
to hide this passage while action was going forward on the 
upper inner stage. But that would completely negative the 
back window as a source of light. Moreover, if such a 
partition existed (and I think it did), it is more likely to have 
been of wood than of brick, and the " Messalina " print 
clearly indicates a brick wall. 

In association with the fact that the employment of the 
upper inner stage for theatrical purposes was only occa- 
sional, I have striven elsewhere to show that in some 
theatres it was utilized as a common dressing-room. 1 We 
know positively that at the Red Bull in its later history " the 
tiring-room" was upstairs, 2 and it is reasonable to suppose 
that in no house could it have occupied any very remote 
position. Actors frequently doubled parts, and now and 
again rapid changes of costume had to be made. 3 Another 
fact pointing to the commodiousness and accessibility of the 
tiring-room is that it was customary (as indicated by Ben 
Jonson in Bartholomew Fair) for the gallants who occupied 
stools on the stage to resort thither between the acts to 
drink and hob-nob with the players. Here one anticipates 
an argument that might be speciously employed against the 
theory that the upper inner stage was in some houses utilized 
as a tiring-room. In the "Messalina" print its width is 
comparatively narrow, less than half the width of the lower 
inner stage. But one has grave reasons to doubt the accuracy 
of these proportions. If the upper inner stage were no larger 
than one of the tiring-house boxes for spectators, it could 
have had no raison d'etre because it would have possessed 
no differentiating utility. It needs therefore to demonstrate 
that scenes were acted there that could not well have been 
acted in any other part of the upper storey, and that for 
reason of the employment of a considerable number of 

1 See The Elizabethan Playhouse and other Studies (First Series), pp. 93-6. 

2 Cf. Pepys' Diary, under 23 March, 1661. 

3 See the list of characters prefixed to Heywood's The Fair Maid of the Exchange 
(c. 1607), where it is said " elevean may easily act this comedy", although the total 
number of parts comprise twenty. These were unequally allotted, some players sustain- 
ing as many as four. 

3<d Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage 

characters. A typical case occurs in The Goblins as given at 
the Blackfriars, circa 1 640. In Act v we have the direction, 
"A curtain, drawn Prince Philatell, with others appear 
above." Again, in The Emperor of the East, i. 2, as acted at 
the Globe and the Blackfriars, we have "the curtains drawn 
above, Theodosius and his eunuchs discovered." One must 
recall that the essential difference between the inner upper 
stage and the adjoining tiring-house boxes for spectators 
was that the former gave upon the gallery while the latter 
were enclosed and approachable only from the back. It is 
vital to bear this in mind in connexion with the scene in Act 
iv of The Miseries of Enforced Marriage (1605), as at the 
Globe, where the Butler and Ilford "enter above", doubt- 
less through one of those gallery doors to which reference 
has already been made. The one says to the other, " stay 
you here on this upper chamber, and I'll stay beneath 
with her." Subsequently reference is made to " the lower 
chamber " by which, of course, is meant the inner stage 

Employment of the upper inner stage is also indicated in 
the first act of Titus Andronicus. " Enter the Tribunes and 
Senatores aloft " means either that they first emerged on to 
the gallery and proceeded to the upper inner stage or that 
they were discovered in session by the drawing of the upper 
curtains. That they did not remain standing on the gallery 
is shown by the subsequent direction, indicating that the two 
Princes "goe vp into the Senate house". The term "senate 
house " practically connotes a room with front curtains. 
One notes this in reading of the performance of Roman 
plays at Elizabeth's court in the Revels Accounts, Thus, 
when "A storie of Pompey" was given at Whitehall on 
Twelfth night, 1 580-1 by the Children of Paul's, the new 
appurtenances provided included "one great citty, a senate 
howse, and eight ells of dobble sarcenet for curtens". 1 

One other illustration of the employment of the upper 
inner stage is important because it shows the contiguity of 

1 Cunningham, Revels Accounts, pp. 167-8. See also p. 56, John Rosse's bill "for 
poles and shyvers for draft of the Curtins before the Senate howse." 

Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage 3 1 

the stairs which led to ordinary stage level. In A Yorkshire 
Tragedy, Scene 5, as acted at the Globe circa 1 606, the action 
takes places in an upper room. A maid is nursing a child 
while the mother sleeps. The infuriated father enters carry- 
ing his wounded son, and throws the maid downstairs in 
saying, "I'll break your clamour with your neck: down 
staires! Tumble, tumble, headlong! — so!" He then injures 
the awakened mother, whose cries bring a servant on the 
scene, only to be overthrown by the madman. Instruction 
for the closing of the curtains at the end is lacking but it is 
implied by the culminating situation. In the absence of an 
upper inner stage it would be difficult to see how this scene 
could be visualized. The same remark applies to Act iii. 5 
of Cockain's Ovid's Tragedy, a play that was seemingly not 
acted, although the printed copy has a prologue and an epi- 
logue. As the author was, however, well acquainted with 
Pre-Restoration stage conventionalities his piece may be 
admitted as evidence. First Clorina enters "above as in her 
chamber", into which she has been locked by her husband. 
Then Phylocles comes on below and, finding a wooden 
ladder, climbs to the balcony, where he sees a " window 
open" and through it Clorina lying on a bed. It cannot 
really be a window, as, after gaining the balcony, he is seen 
to kiss the sleeping woman and to court her on her awaken- 
ing. That the action takes place on the upper inner stage is 
shown by the circumstance that while the two are in converse 
Bassanus suddenly unlocks the door, causing Clorina to 
exclaim, " my husband's come ". 

(b) Casements 

Before proceeding to a minute consideration of the em- 
ployment of windows on the Pre-Restoration stage it is vital 
that something should be said regarding the slovenliness and 
lack of definition that often accompanied the writing down 
of old stage-directions. Sometimes to take them literally is 
to blunder, and sometimes their obscurity is such that a 
wise discretion has to be exercised. Thus the instruction 

32 Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage 

"enter above" conveys no definite impression. It might 
mean (i) that the character, or characters, appeared on the 
gallery, (2) or at a window, (3) or were discovered on the 
inner upper stage. A few examples may be cited where 
"above" implies "at a window". In The host Lady, iii. 1, 
Hermione and Acanthe appear "above ", listening. Their 
exact position is not made clear until we read in a subsequent 
direction," Whilst he [Phormio] kneels, Hermione and the 
Moor look down from the window. " Again, in The Two 
Noble Kinsmen, ii. 1, Palamon and Arcite appear "above " as 
in prison, but the Daughter's remark shows they are looking 
out of a window, the one above the other. l Sometimes it is 
only by collation of varying texts that one can arrive at the 
truth. Shakespeare affords two notable examples. In the 
Folio we read in the opening scene of Othello, "Brabantio 
above", but the Quarto of 1622 says, "Brabantio at a 
window". Similarly in Romeo and Juliet, iii. 5, Quarto 2 
merely notifies that the ill-starred lovers appear "aloft", but 
Quarto 1 has the definite instruction, "enter Romeo and 
Juliet at the window ". Reference to this tragedy recalls the 
fact that now and again the use of windows is only textually 
indicated, no direction, for example, accompanying the line 
in Act ii. 2, "But, soft, what light through yonder window 
breaks ! " 2 Take again The Antiquary, ii. 1, as acted at the 
Cockpit. Aurelio, on the lower stage says, "this is the 
window," and bids the musicians play. A song is heard 
above, and then "enter Lucretia". Where she really is can 
only be determined by Aurelio's bald re-echo of Romeo's 
rapturous exclamation, "What more than earthly light 
breaks through that window." 

Coming now to the question of the employment of case- 
ments on the Pre-Restoration stage, I desire to iterate the 
statement that the casement was the normal stage window 
of that epoch, and (what is important to grasp, with so 
much ambiguity confronting us) the kind of "window" 

1 So too in The Merry Wives of Windsor, iv. 5, Falstaff seemingly opens a case- 
ment before speaking down to mine host. 

2 Cf. The Tivo Gentlemen of Verona, iv. 2, folio. After the song Silvia appears, 
evidently above at a window, but no instruction is given. 

Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage 33 

most commonly employed. " Casement " in this connexion 
must be interpreted to mean a light iron or wooden sash 
for small panes of glass, as constituting a window or part 
of a window, and made to open outwards by swinging on 
hinges attached to a vertical side of the aperture into which 
it is fitted. When opened, the casement was usually held 
in position by a long hook. It is noteworthy that on the 
stage of to-day doors in room scenes are invariably made to 
open outwards because of the better stage effect (especially 
in the matter of striking exits) thereby attained. One desires 
to lay emphasis on the fact that the old English casement 
always opened outwards, because the French casement (of 
two hinged leaves), so well known on the Continent, opens 
inwards. The latter would have proved very clumsy and 
ineffective on the old platform stage. ! The supreme grate- 
fulness of the casement as a permanent stage adjunct lay 
in the degree of illusion its employment lent to scenes of 
gallantry and intrigue. This is evidenced by the remarkable 
number of upper-wkidow scenes in the Elizabethan drama. 
For purposes of reference a comprehensive list of these 
may be given. 

The serenade scenes comprise The Insatiate Countess,\\\. 1 ; 
The Distresses, Act i ; The Two Gentlemen of Verona, iv. 2 ; 
The Antiquary, ii. 1 ; Monsieur Thomas, iii. 3 ; Mother Bombie, 
v. 3 ; The Ordinary, iv. 5 ; The Duke of Milan, ii. 1 . Among 
rope-ladder scenes may be mentioned Blu rt,Master Constable, 
iv. 3; The Partiall Law, ii. 5; The Hog hath lost his Pearle, 
Acti; B^meojmdJ4ilut,\\\. 5. Many ordinary upper-window 
scenes do not belong to either of these categories. These 
include The Two Italian Gentlemen, iv. 6 ; Two Angry Women 
of Abington, iii. 2 ; The Taming of the Shrew, Act v; The 
Spanish Tragedy, Act iii ; Volpone, ii. 1 ; Two Tragedies in 
One, ii. 1 ; The host Lady, iii. 1 ; The Captain, ii. 2 ; The 
Widow, i. 1 ; The Roman Actor, Act ii; Every Man Out of his 
Humour, ii. 1; The Tale of a Tub, i. 1. 

Here we have a goodly list of plays known to have been 

1 Cf. The Roxburghe Ballads, I (edit. Chappell, 1888), p. 151, for an old woodcut 
showing an upper double casement partly open. 


34 Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage 

acted at the Rose, Globe, Paul's, Blackfriars, Cockpit, and 
Whitefriars, as well as of plays acted elsewhere ; and the 
inference deducible is that the casement was common to 
all theatres of the Pre-Restoration period. To some extent 
this may be confirmed by advancing positive evidence of its 
employment. In Munday and Chettle's Death of Robert Earl 
of 'Huntington, 1 v. 2 (as acted at the Rose circa 1598), Bruce 
enters upon the walls of Windsor Castle, and addressing the 
King below, says, " See my dead mother and her famish'd 
son!" Suiting the action to the word he then "opens a 
casement showing the dead bodies within." This casement 
is supposed to represent the wide breach which Bruce had 
made in the wall. Subsequently he has a long scene on the 
battlements and finishes by saying, "now will I shut my 
shambles in again," to which we have the accompanying 
direction, "closes the casement". Here we have a curious, 
almost unique, employment of the casement, for exposures 
of this order were generally made by drawing the upper or 
lower traverses. Can it be that Henslowe's "little Rose" 
had no upper inner stage ? 

In a still earlier play, The Two Italian Gentlemen (1584), 
we have in Act i. 2, the direction, " Victoria setteth open the 
Casement of her windowe and with her lute in her hand, 
playeth and singeth," etc., etc. 2 In Jack Drum's Entertain- 
ment, or The Pleasant Comedy of Pasquil and Katharine ', 3 
ii. 1, we read, "the Casement opens and Katharine appears", 
to talk down to Puffe. Again, in The Distresses (otherwise 
The Spanish Lovers of 1639) musicians come on in the first 
act with a party of serenaders. By way of warning one of 
the former says : 

Stand all close beneath 
The penthouse ! there's a certain chamber-maid 
From yond casement will dash us else. 

1 A scarce play only readily accessible in Hazlitt's recension of Dodsley's Old 
Plays, vol. viii. 

2 In Act iv. 6, we have the prompter's marginal note, "Victoria out at her 

3 4to 1 60 1 as acted at Paul's. I quote from the reprint in Simpson's School of 

Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage 35 

In Greene's Tu Quoque, or The City Gallant, as acted at 
the Red Bull circa 161 1, we have pointed allusion to the 
realism of the stage casement. l Apostrophising the sun, 
Geraldine says : 

I call thee up, and task thee for thy slowness. 
Point all thy beams through yonder flaring glass. 
And raise a beauty brighter than thyself. 

Then "enter Gertrude aloft". She speaks down to 
Geraldine, thanks him for his music, and makes reference 
to the fact that she is standing at a window. 

In several other window scenes, where specific mention 
of the casement does not occur, its use is implied. In 
the amplified edition of Doctor Faustus, published in 161 6 
(probably representing the version of the play given at the 
Fortune in 1602), Frederick, in Scene ix, cries, "See, see, 
his window's ope ! we'll call to him." The accompanying 
direction is "enter Benvolio above, at a window in his night- 
cap: buttoning". Occasionally one finds the instruction to 
close the casement at the end of a window scene included 
by the author in his text, as if it were vital the matter 
should not be overlooked. An instance of this occurs in The 
Captain, ii. 1 (as at the Blackfriars circa 1 6 1 3), where Frank 
in departing bids Clora "shut the window". 

Of the exact position occupied by the casement — if it had 
any stereotyped position (which I very much doubt) — it 
would be impossible to speak in our present imperfect state 
of knowledge. But at least something can be determined 
regarding its relative height. Obviously, it cannot have been 
placed in the surmounting hut, or, indeed, in any part of the 
tiring-house above "the Heavens". The frequent interplay 
of characters at upper windows with characters on the lower 
stage negatives the possibility of any considerable altitude. 
One may put the matter concretely by instancing the scene 
in the third act of The Insatiate Countess (1603), where 
Mendosa serenades the Lady Lentulus, who appears at an 
upper window. Later on we have the direction, " he throws 

1 Hazlitt's Dodsley, xi. p. 225. 

36 Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage 

up a ladder of cords, which she makes fast to some part of 
the window ; he ascends, and at top fals." This does not 
mean that he fell on to the balcony. The subsequent dialogue 
between the two shows that Mendosa is supposed to have 
fallen into the street and injured himself so badly that the 
lady is afraid the watch will find him there before he is able to 
get away. It is plain to be seen, both from the circumstance 
of the throwing up of the ladder and of the fall, that the 
casement can have been of no great height from the lower 
stage. One takes leave to think that the gallery must have 
been within easy range, else Arthur's leap in King John would 
have been a death-leap indeed. 1 Many other situations might 
be instanced to show that upper windows were of ready 
accessibility from below. A couple will suffice. In Volpone^ 
ii. 1 (as acted at the Globe), a mountebank's stage is erected 
under a window, and Volpone ascends it. Celia, from the 
window, throws her handkerchief to him, and he catches 
and kisses it. Again, in The Partial! Law? ii. 1, occurs the 
direction, "Trumpets sound, the Challenger passeth by, his 
Page bearing his shield and his squire his lance. The King 
and Ladyes are above in the window. The page passing by 
presents ye King with his Maister's Scutchion." 3 

(c) Bay-Windows 

Arising out of (b) comes the question, was the casement 
invariably an independent opening or could it have formed 
part, now and again, of a bay-window ? There is probably 
some significance in the fact that the only evidence of the 
employment of bay-windows on the Pre-Restoration stage 
occurs in two plays originally produced at the First Globe. 
In The Miseries of Enforced Marriage^ as acted there about 
1 605, one notes in the fourth act that while llford is above, 
Wentloe and Bartley come on below. Bartley says, u Here- 
about is the house sure," and Wentloe replies, "we cannot 

1 Cf. Fortune by Land and Sea, iii. 1, "Forrest leaps down". This was a Red 
Bull play. 

2 First published by Bertram Dobell in 1909. 

3 Cf. '77s Pity She's a Wkore, v. 1 (a Cockpit play), where Annabella from an 
upper window throws a letter down to the Friar. 

Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage 37 

mistake it ; for here's the sign of the Wolf and the bay- 
window." In The Merry Devi/I of Edmonton (a play which 
belongs to much about the same period), the second scene 
of Act v. passes outside the George Inn. In it the host 
asks, "D'yee see yon bay window?" 

In the absence of evidence for other theatres we must 
be careful here to avoid arguing from the particular to the 
general. Since there is a certain type of over-zealous inves- 
tigator who, in furtherance of a theory, grasps any straw, it 
is requisite to point out that the allusions to bay-windows in 
Women Beware Women, iii. 1 , and A Chaste Maid at Cheapside, 
v. 1 , so far from indicating their common employment in the 
theatres, merely point to their popularity among the women- 
folk of the early seventeenth century. " 'Tis a sweet recrea- 
tion", we read in Women Beware Women, " for a gentlewoman 
to stand in a bay-window and see gallants." How popular the 
bay-window was with the thriving middle classes is demon- 
strated in an extant view of Goswell Street in Shakespeare's 
time, 1 wherein we see a row of bay-windows surmounting 
the projecting shops and with their bases resting on the 

On the strength of the two references cited we may 
safely concede that the upper stage of the first Globe was 
adorned with a bay-window. As the first Fortune was 
modelled on the Globe it may be that it too was similarly 
provided. Having gone so far one loses firm foothold 
and runs the risk of immersion in the quagmires of specula- 
tion. As an argument in favour of the employment of 
bay-windows in the later public and private theatres of the 
platform-stage order, it may at least be pointed out that 
projections of the sort, if provided with goodly casements, 
would have been well adapted for upper-stage scenes, and, 
through permitting of a better view, would have been 
eminently grateful to the public. Moreover, even as a coign 
of vantage for favoured spectators, the bay-window would 
not have been without its merits. Its most likely position 

1 Given in J. P. Malcolm's Anecdotes of the Manners and Customs of London (1808), 
among the plates at p. 454. 

38 Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage 

would have been over one or both of the two norm al entering 
doors. One looks for some such arrangement to account 
for the fact 1 that when the time-honoured entering doors 
were transferred at the Restoration to the proscenium arch 
of the newly arrived picture-stage they were surmounted by 
balconies with windows. Of the perpetuation of Elizabethan 
conventionalities in this particular connexion from that 
period until the dawn of the eighteenth century I shall say 
something at the close. 

(d) Windows with Curtains 

Unless we can assume the general employment of draped 
bay-windows (on the whole a difficult proposition), it seems 
to me that references to windows with curtains cannot be 
taken as referring to actual windows but to small curtained 
rooms on the second floor of the tiring-house. Here are a 
few of the examples to which I refer : 

In King Henry VIII, v. 2 (folio), we read, "Enter the 
King and Buts, at a Windowe above." Some conversation 
passes regarding what is going on below, and the King says, 
" Let 'em alone, and drawe the curtaine close; we shall hear 
more anon." 

In The J ewes Tragedy, or their Fatal and final Overthrow 
by Vespasian and Titus, his son, Act iv (as performed circa 
1633), we have the directions, "Musick and the Lady 

Miriam sings in her chamber She drawes her 

window curten". 

In Monsieur D 'Olive, Act i, as given at the Blackfriars 
circa 1606, Vandome comes on in the street outside the 
house and says : 

And see, methinks through the encurtain'd windows, 
(In this high time of day) I see light tapers. 
This is exceeding strange ! 

Here windows were not actually required to lend illusion 
to the scene. A glimmer of candlelight emerging from 

1 See the paper entitled " Proscenium Doors : an Elizabethan Heritage," in the 
First Series of these Studies. 

Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage 39 

between the upper and lower traverses or other stage 
curtains would suffice. Apart from this, it will not be difficult 
to prove that upper-stage boxes (sometimes with curtains) 
were pressed into service for the due representation of 
what might be considered as window scenes. Thus in Lady 
Alimony, iv. 6, we have the direction, " The favourites appear 
to their half-bodies in their shirts, in rooms above." Subse- 
quently, " they come down, buttoning themselves." In that 
curious play, The Parson s Wedding, which I have discussed 
at length elsewhere, 1 in Act i. 3, the Widow and Pleasant 
enter "above". They are evidently in a room looking out 
on the street, but no mention is made of any window. After 
talking to her companion, the Widow addresses Jolly below, 
and later on " shuts the curtain ". 

There are sound reasons for believing that in many scenes 
of this order the music room was pressed into service. 
From a stage-direction and a prompter's note in The 
Thracian Wonder we know that in some theatres the music 
room was situated on the second floor of the tiring-house, 
that it was provided with curtains, and that it was used 
occasionally for dramatic purposes. In association with the 
present subject it is also vital for us to note that, when songs 
were sung offthe stage, they were almost invariably rendered 
by boys in the music room. By a curious coincidence, we 
have to hand an instance where the music room is spoken 
of as a window. In The Bondman, 111. 3 (as acted at the Cock- 
pit on 3 December, 1623), the scene is a room in Cleon's 
house and a dance is proposed. Gracculo asks, "where's the 
music ?" and Poliphron replies, " I have placed it in yon 
window." Then the fiddlers play and the dance is given. 
But what I want to emphasize is that in the Elizabethan 
drama (using the term in its broadest sense) songs were 
often heard above as if coming from my lady's chamber 
before the lady appeared at her window. An instance of this 
has already been quoted from The Jewes Tragedy. Another 
occurs in The Roman Actor, as acted at the Blackfriars circa 
1 626. In Act ii, while Caesar stands below in the hall of the 

1 See The Elizabethan Playhouse and other Studies (First Series), p. 94. 

4-0 Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage 

Palace, " Domitia appears at the window." Then music is 
played above and she sings. We may safely take it, I think, 
that all such upper scenes were either played in the music 
room or at a window adjoining. If one could be certain that 
the upper action in the Blackfriars comedy of The Captain 
took place at a certain juncture at a casement, proof would 
be to hand that the casement was close to the music room. 
In Act ii. 2, Frederick enters below in the street and hears 
an accompanied duet sung in his sister's chamber. After- 
wards, "enter at the window Frank and Clora." Taken 
literally, Frank's subsequent instruction to Clora to "shut 
the window " could only refer to a casement, but if we could 
assume that, after a certain custom, the scene was acted in the 
music room, then the instruction would really mean "close 
the curtains." 

(e) Grated Windows 

There is some reason to believe that on this sub-divided 
second floor of the tiring-house one or two grated boxes 
were provided for the benefit of those better-class spectators 
who desired to see without being seen. In an epigram of 
the period of 1 596 Davies writes : 

Rufus the Courtier at the theatre, 
Leauing the best and most conspicuous place, 
Doth either to the stage himselfe transferre, 
Or through a grate doth shew his doubtful face : 
For that the clamorous frie of Innes of court, 
Filles up the priuate roomes of greater prise; 
And such a place where all may haue resort, 
He in his singularite doth despise. 1 

It is a puzzle to determine how far stage-boxes to which 
spectators made resort were utilized for theatrical purposes, 
but it seems fairly well assured that under pressure of the 
moment these stage-box occupants could be temporarily 
displaced by the actors. 2 In this way grated boxes could be 

1 Cf. Modern Philology, viii. No. 4, April, 191 1, article by C. R. Baskervill on 
"The Custom of Sitting on the Elizabethan Stage." 

2 See my discussion of this point in The Elizabethan Playhouse and other Studies 
(First Series), pp. 32-3. 

Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage 41 

made to serve a double duty. So seldom, however, were 
they pressed into service during the traffic of the scene that 
one thinks they would hardly have been provided at all but 
for the appeal they made to playgoers of the Rufus type. 
Extensive as has been my examination of the Elizabethan 
drama I know of scarcely half a dozen instances in which 
grated boxes were utilized for stage purposes. The earliest 
occurs in King Henry VI^ Pt. 1, Act i. 4, a scene elaborately 
discussed (but not with complete satisfaction) by Brodmeier. 
Here the lower stage represents the besieged city of Orleans 
and the upper the suburbs where the English are encamped. 
" Enter the Master Gunner of Orleance, and his Boy." Says 
the crossbowman to his son : 

Sirrha, thou know'st how Orleance is beseie'tL 

The English, in the suburbs close entrencht, 
Wont through a secret Grate of iron barres, 
In Yonder Tower to over-peere the citie. 

He bids the boy keep a sharp look out for the English 
and let him know when they appear. When he has gone 
the Boy says, " He never trouble you if I may spye them." 
Then Salisbury and Talbot enter above and proceed to 
examine the besieged city from their sheltered nook. The 
boy with his linstock fires as soon as he perceives them, and 
" Salisbury falls downe ". The whole scene is difficult to 
visualize, and one can easily blunder in its interpretation. 
Notwithstanding the crossbowman's reference to the "secret 
Grate" in the speech quoted, it is quite possible that 
Salisbury was not standing in a grated box when the 
shot was fired. The direction simply says, "enter Salisbury 
and Talbot with others on the Turrets." This is really too 
indefinite to admit of interpretation. 

To some extent a similar puzzle is presented in the 
second act of that notable Blackfriars play, The Two Noble 
Kinsmen. Scene 1 evidently opens in the courtyard of the 
prison. Towards its close "enter Palamon and Arcite, 
above." The Jailor's exclamation, " Looke, yonder they 

42 Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage 

are ! that's Arcite lookes out," shows that they appear at a 
window, and the reply of his daughter, "No, Sir, no, that's 
Palamon : Arcite is the lower of the twaine ; you may per- 
ceive a part of him," indicates that they are looking through 
a grate. Scene 2 opens with " Enter Palamon, and Arcite 
in prison." They are now on the upper inner stage, repre- 
senting a cell looking out on a garden, where they behold 
Emilia and her attendant. Palamon's threat 

Put but thy head out of this window more, 
And as I have a soule, He naile thy life to't, 

would at first lead us to believe that the two were either at 
a casement or in an ordinary stage-box. But to accept this 
theory is to negative the possibility of visualizing what 
follows. While Palamon and Arcite are quarrelling, the 
Keeper enters on the upper gallery, and is seen by Palamon 
before he approaches. Since the Keeper takes Arcite away 
with him, he must have been able to enter the prison from 
the gallery, and this he could not have done had the two 
kinsmen been at a casement or in an enclosed box. But at 
the close of the scene we are faced with a contradiction, for 
when the keeper returns to remove Palamon to another cell, 
the latter says : 

Farewell, kinde window. 
May rude winde never hurt thee — 

This certainly sounds as if addressed to a grate or case- 
ment, not to the broad aperture of the upper inner stage. 
Without full knowledge of the physical disposition of the 
Blackfriars stage the problem is insoluble. 

Turn we now to two definite instances of the use of 
grates. The first is to be found in The Picture^ iv. 2, as acted 
at the Globe circa 1 629. Ubaldo appears above, seen to the 
middle only, in his shirt. He looks down and says, " Ha ! 
the windows grated with iron, I cannot force 'em, and if 1 
leap down here, I break my neck." Shortly afterwards 
Ricardo enters "with a great noise above as fallen " through 
a trap-door, and calls to Ubaldo. They see each other, and 
Ubaldo asks Ricardo to throw him a cloak to cover him. 

Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage 43 

In Rowley's A New Wonder^ a Woman Never Vext^ Act iv, 
old Foster is in jail for debt at Ludgate. Being the newest 
comer, he is told by the Keeper it is requisite, according to 
custom, that he should beg for alms for the general relief of 
the prisoners " at the iron grate above." Subsequently we 
have the direction, "Old Foster appears above at the grate; 
a box hanging down." Robert, his son, comes on outside 
the jail on the lower stage, and, in response to his father's 
pleas, puts money in the box. It is a pathetic situation, for 
the old man cannot see him. 

(f) Conjunctive Windows 

If the employment of grated boxes to represent windows 
was comparatively rare, the conjunctive employment of two 
windows (whether actual or merely nominal) was rarer still. 
One searches the entire Elizabethan drama in vain for a 
repetition of that ingenious scene in Act ii. 2 of Tbe Devil 
is an Ass, where Wittipol courts Mrs. Fitzdottrell. It will 
be as well, therefore, for us to bear in mind that, whatever 
deductions can be legitimately made from it, they are only 
applicable to the Blackfriars at the period of 1 6 1 6. Unfor- 
tunately, the marginal instruction in the folio — "This scene 
is acted at two windows as out of two contiguous buildings" 
— affords no definite clue to method of staging. Most 
of the Elizabethan investigators who have discussed the 
scene have been disposed to place the windows at an obtuse 
angle, and to arrange the lower stage accordingly. Professor 
Reynolds, on the other hand, sees no reason why this par- 
ticular scene could not have been presented in adjacent 
sections of any balcony like that pictured in the Swan 
sketch. 1 Personally I know of only one objection to this 
arrangement and that may be more imaginary than real. It 
calls, however, for some consideration. At the beginning 
of the courtship Pug comes on below to take stock of what 
is going on and, after indulging in a brief comment, departs. 
The important point is that he is standing in a position 

1 Modern Philology ', vol. ix., No. I, July, 191 1, p. 17, article "What we know of 
the Elizabethan Stage," where the matter is slightly discussed. 

44 Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage 

where he could not see Wittipol and Mrs. Fitzdottrell 
unless the windows were situated well to the front of the 
stage on one of the sides. Possibly this affords some clue to 
the physical disposition of the Blackfriars stage, and shows 
where it differed essentially from the arrangement in the 
early public theatres. I base all this on the significant in- 
struction " enter Pug behind ". Directions of this particular 
phrasing are very common in old plays, and I was for 
long puzzled to know what they conveyed, seeing that all 
entries on the platform-stage were made behind. But after 
an examination of a considerable number of directions of 
the sort in connexion with the scenes where they occur, it 
dawned on me that " enter behind " meant " enter on the 
inner stage " and that wherever it cropped up a scene of 
eavesdropping followed. Characters that entered behind 
remained on the lower inner stage (seen of the audience but 
unsuspected by the other characters) until the exigencies of 
the action desired them to come forward and reveal their 
presence. 1 

The question here suggests itself, have we any clue to 
the staging of the scene in the suggestion which Mrs. 
Fitzdottrell obliquely conveys to her lover, in Act ii. i, by 
using Pug as an intermediary ? She sends word asking him 
to forbear what he has not yet done — 

To forbear his acting to me, 
At the gentleman's chamber-window in Lincoln's 

inn there, 
That opens to my gallery ; else I swear 
To acquaint my husband with his folly. 

Might it not be that the solution to the problem is pre- 
sented in this reference to the gallery ? When the scene 
opens Wittipol is in his friend Manly's chamber and Manly 
sings. The rendering of the song half indicates that the 
chamber was represented by the music room, which was 

1 For other examples of the direction in Ben Jonson, see The Silent Woman, iii. i 
and iv. i, and Volpone, Act iii. Massinger employs it in A New Way to Pay old Debts, 
iii. 2 (twice), The Bondman, iii. 3, and The Fatal Dowry, iii. 1. I could cite at least fifty 
other clear examples. 

Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage 45 

fronted by curtains and opened on to the gallery. Even if 
Mrs. Fitzdottrell was in the adjoining box, Wittipol may 
have emerged on the gallery and proceeded to her "window". 
It really looks as if some such course was adopted, other- 
wise it is difficult to see how Wittipol could have struck 
Fitzdottrell from the window at the close, according to the 
text. The deduction from all this would be that the gallery 
at the Blackfriars circulated round at least two sides of the 
stage, that the music room there was not at the back and 
that the whole scene was acted sideways and somewhat to 
the front. In part this conclusion runs counter to my own 
ideas, but in matters of Elizabethan research the truth has 
an ugly habit of mocking at one's preconceptions. 

Beyond this puzzling scene I know of only two other 
instances on the Pre-Restoration stage 1 where two windows 
of any kind were used conjunctively. One, in The Picture, 
has already been referred to under "grated windows". The 
other, which I shall not attempt to elucidate, occurs in The 
Parson s Wedding, ii. 7, where a direction runs, " Enter (at 
the windows) the Widow and Master Careless, Mistress 
Pleasant and Master Wild, Captain, Master Sad, Constant, 
Jolly, Secret, a table and knives ready for oysters." 

(g) Upper Back Windows 

Some reference to the possibility of a back window forming 
part of the upper inner stage has already been made in 
section (b). That important, long-obscured truths may 
be accidentally stumbled upon is revealed by the cir- 
cumstance that Dr. Albright, in seeking to establish an 
erroneous conclusion with regard to one of the features 
of the "Messallina" print, has vitally increased our know- 
ledge of the architectural disposition of the tiring-house. 
Unless we can concede this upper back window, certain 
scenes and situations in a few old plays are utterly incom- 
prehensible. One takes it that, like the casement, this back 

1 For an early picture-stage example, see The Elizabethan Playhouse and other Studies 
(First Series), p. 174. 

46 Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage 

window was really a window and not a make-believe. But 
there all resemblance ends, for while the casement was 
simply and solely provided for dramatic purposes, the upper 
back window owed its origin to the pressing necessity for 

Not to rob Dr. Albright of any of his laurels, I shall first 
cite the examples he gives in proof of what he somewhat 
ambiguously styles cc the gallery window ". ! They are three 
in number, but one of them (from The Picture^ iv. 2) I have 
had to discard, because, as demonstrated in section (e), it is 
irrelevant. The others occur in The Great Duke of Florence^ 
v. 1, and If You know not me y You know Nobody^ Act v, both 
Cockpit plays. In the former, Sanazarro is seen imprisoned 
in an upper chamber in Charamonte's house. Hearing the 
clatter of horses, "he looks back" (i.e. out of the window) 
and says : 

A goodly troop ! this back part of my prison 
Allows me liberty to see and know them. 

With Sanazarro's recognition of three of the equestrians 
Dr. Albright ends his summary of the scene, but the subse- 
quent action requires to be noted. In order to communicate 
with the Duchess, Sanazarro slips a diamond ring from his 
finger, and taking a pane of glass (from the window?) writes 
upon it. Curiously enough, he does not throw it out behind 
as one would expect, and here, textually, we lose sight of 
him. The "goodly troop" enter below on foot, as outside 
the house, and then "the pane falls down" at Fiorinda's 
feet. Evidently Sanazarro has thrown it from the gallery. 
But she sees nothing of him, and only says, "What's 
that ? a pane thrown from the window, no wind stirring." 
Doubtless this clumsy expedient was adopted because the 
falling and receipt of the glass missive could not be shown 
behind. But the whole is infantile. 

In If You know notme^ etc., we have the direction, "Enter 
Elizabeth, Gage, and Clarentia above." In response to 
Elizabeth's command, "Good Master Gage, loojie to the 

1 The Sbakspcrian Stage y p. 66. 

Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage 47 

pathway that doth come from the Court," Gage goes to the 
window and tells of three horsemen that he sees riding 
towards them at break-neck speed. 

In both these cases the testimony as to the existence of 
an actual back window — of a casement that could be opened 
— is very slender. The sceptic who should pooh-pooh them 
could not be answered, were it not for my discovery of 
a much more potent example. This occurs in The Captain^ 
v. 2, a Blackfriars play of circa 16 13. Although the scene 
is not directly indicated as taking place on the upper stage, 
one can safely draw the inference that it was acted there. 
Note that Fabricio says of Jacomo, "he walks below for 
me, under the window." It is arranged to play a trick 
upon the tarrier by emptying the contents of a chamber- 
pot on his head. Then 

Enter Wench. 

Clor. Art thou there, wench ? 
Wench. I. 

Fab. Look out then if you canst see him. 
Wench. Yes I see him, and by my troth he stands so fair I could 
not hold were he my father; his hat's off too, and he's scratching 
his head. 

Fab. O wash that hand I prithee. 

Wench. Send thee good luck, this the second time I have thrown 
thee out to day : ha, ha, ha, just on's head. 
Fran. Alas ! 

Fab. What does he now? 

Wench. He gathers stones, God's light, he breaks all the street 

Jacomo. 1 Whores, Bawds, your windows, your windows. 
Wench. Now he is breaking all the low windows with his sword. 
Excellent sport, now he's beating a fellow that laugh'd 

at him. 
Truly the man takes it patiently ; now he goes down 

the street. 
Gravely looking on each side, there's not one more 
dare laugh. 

1 He is not on the stage, and as no entry is marked, he doubtless calls out behind. 

48 Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage 

Seeing that it was impossible to visualize Jacomo's action 
after his offensive baptism, 1 the whole of the scene must have 
been positively suggested to the dramatist by the presence of 
the upper back window. 

In The Devil's Law Case (a Globe or Blackfriars play of 
circa 1620), there is a situation that on superficial reading 
promises proof of this upper back casement, but on minute 
examination disappoints. In Act v. 5, Romelio induces 
Leonora and the Capuchin to enter a closet on the lower 
stage, and then locks them in. In the next scene the friar 
and the lady appear at a turret window (spoken of as a case- 
ment) which looks out to the sea. Both are very anxious 
to escape. After threatening to "leap these battlements" 
(in allusion probably to the balustraded gallery), Leonora 
asks the Capuchin to "ope the other casement that looks 
into the city." The Capuchin replies, "Madam, 1 shall," 
but no direction follows implying that he does so. Both 
immediately exeunt, and shortly afterwards they appear 
below. Are we to assume that escape was made in sight of 
the audience through the back window ? Surely the lady's 
farthingale would have rendered this acrobatic feat a matter 
of some difficulty. 

Exits of this order could only be conceded on the ground 
that the inner casement was in a partition opening out on to 
a corridor, and not in the outer wall. Although inferior in 
usefulness to an outer window, a window of this kind would 
have its utility in admitting reflected natural light to the 
upper inner stage. But, apart from the question of case- 
ments, some reasonable grounds for belief in this corridor- 
hiding partition can be educed from a number of stage- 
directions proving the existence of a door leading on to the 
upper inner stage, a door so solid and illusive that it could, 
when necessary, be locked. 2 One cannot well conceive any 
other position for such a door except at the back. 

The inexorable sway of logic compels me, in despite of 

1 The mere drenching could have been, and, as a matter of fact, had been shown. 
See The Tivo Italian Gentlemen, iv. 6. 

2 Cf. The Guardian (Blackfriars), iii. 6 ; Ovid's Tragedy, iii. 5 ; The Second 
Maiden s Tragedy, iv. 3. 

Windows on the Pre- Res to rati on Stage 49 

certain obstinate preconceptions, to admit the feasibility 
of exits, on occasion, by this back window. I feel assured 
that the reader will have vivid personal experience of the 
astonishment that accompanied my discovery of the fact 
that a well-known scene in Romeo and Ju lie t goes far towards 
demonstrating this feasibility. In Act iii. 5, of the arche- 
typal love-tragedy, we must begin by asking ourselves 
where, theatrically speaking, did the scene open ? At first it 
would appear that "Juliet and her Romeo'' are communing 
at an upper window, but maturer reflection reveals the 
"if" in the matter. While the surreptitious quarto of 
1 597 clearly says, " enter Romeo and Juliet at the window," 
Smethwick's undated quarto, on the other hand, merely has 
"enter Romeo and Juliet aloft." If we could assume that 
"aloft" really meant "the upper inner stage", a textual 
difficulty that arises a little later could readily be explained 
away. Juliet's line, " then window let day in and let life out," 
evidently implies the simultaneous opening of a casement, 
but that casement could not have been in the tiring-house 
facade, for the window at which the lovers stood, or the 
aperture which did duty for a window, was already open. 
The only logical conclusion is that Juliet suited the action 
to the word by opening the back casement. But here another 
difficulty crops up. After the line " Farewell, my love, one 
kisse and I'll descend," is to be found in Quarto 1 (but not 
elsewhere), the indication "he goeth downe"; and the rest 
of the scene is given with Romeo on the lower stage. How, 
then, did he go down ? If, illusively, by a rope-ladder he 
must have descended at the front of the tiring-house. But 
it is to be noted that it is nowhere clearly stated that he so 
descends. Assuming that Juliet, at the line quoted, opened 
the back casement, Romeo could have gone through it, as 
if on to a rope-ladder, and, running downstairs, quickly 
emerged through one of the entering doors on to the lower 
stage. Vainly one asks oneself what was the justification for 
this clumsy arrangement. The necessity is not apparent. 
But clumsy as it is, it has its analogue in the scene already 
cited from The Great Duke of Florence. 

5<d Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage 

Unless we can press into evidence the scene from Romeo 
and Juliet^ proof is lacking to show that the upper back 
window was a characteristic of the public theatre. All the 
other examples cited are from private-theatre plays. But it 
seems to me that the presence of the window having been 
satisfactorily demonstrated in the one type of house, may be 
rationally inferred in the other. The necessity which called 
it into being was equally pressing in both. 

(h) Lower-Stage Windows 

Very few old plays exist in which reference can be found 
to the presence of windows below, and even in these it is 
matter for speculation whether the references can always be 
taken literally. The ample provision of casements, grates 
and curtained rooms on the upper stage answered most 
purposes and precluded the necessity for placing windows 
in the lower part of the tiring-house facade. Indeed I 
know of only two plays which indicate the presence of 
windows on the lower outer stage. l In the last scene of 
Field's Amends for Ladies (a Blackfriars play of circa 1 6 1 5), 
four characters are standing outside a bedroom, evidently 
represented by the lower inner stage with closed traverses. 
Suddenly they all say, "How now ?" in unison, the accom- 
panying direction being " looking in at the window ". 2 Lord 
Feesimple describes what is going on in the bedroom, and 
subsequently "a curtain is drawn and a bed discovered". 
Here the action must certainly have taken place on the lower 
stage, not only because it was usual to act bedroom scenes 
there, but for the reason that plays never ended with all the 
characters above. Seemingly, then, the play is evidence for 
a window on lower stage level close by the traverses. It 
may be that some corroboration of this is afforded in Sir 
Clyomon and Sir Clamydes, a public-theatre play of circa 

1 The practicable stall window in Ardcn of Faversbam, ii. 2 (which the Prentice 
lets down, thus breaking Black Will's head), was, of course, a temporary wooden con- 
trivance, and to be reckoned among properties. 

2 I have not been able to see the original quarto and can only quote the play as 
given in Dodsley's collection. 























1 — 

























^ > 

Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage 5 1 

1 592. Scene 9 opens in the Forest of Marvels. Subtle Shift 
enters on his way to Sir Clamydes in prison, talking as he 
performs his journey. When he reaches his destination, he 
hears the knight lamenting, and asks him cc to look out of 
the window ". The door of the prison is subsequently 
opened, and Clamydes " enters out ". 1 

No argument could be advanced for the presence of a 
back window on the upper inner stage that would not apply 
equally as well to a back window on the corresponding 
inner stage below. In each there was a pressing necessity for 
light. The difficulty could be met in night scenes by the 
bringing in of candles, but there were many other scenes in 
which this could not be done. Admit the provision of the 
lower back window as a requisite architectural feature and 
its ultimate employment by the dramatist may be inferred. 

Four scenes may be cited as tending to establish the 
existence of this lower back window. In Marlowe's The 
Massacre at Paris, Scene 9, Talaeus enters to Ramus in his 
study 2 and tells him the Guisians are hard at his door. He 
is in a state of panic and offers to leap out of the window but 
is stayed by Ramus. 

In The Merry Wives of Windsor (an early Globe play), 
the fourth scene of Act 1 in the distinctive folio version 
passes in a room in Dr. Caius's house. The scene opens 
with Mrs. Quickly calling, " What, John Rugby, I pray 
thee goe to the casement, and see if you can see my Master, 
Master Docter Caius comming." Rugby replies, " I'll goe 
watch." Immediately afterwards Mrs. Quickly talks about 
him to the others, and most modern editors of the play, 
assuming his departure, insert "exit Rugby" in the middle 
of the Dame's second speech. I take this to be as widely 
astray as is the interpolated note of his entry when he ex- 
claims, "Out alas; here comes my Master." Clearly Rugby 

1 Not all early textual allusions can be taken literally. I doubt if any inference 
can be drawn from the Horse Courser's threat in Doctor Faustus, Scene n, "I will 
speak with him now, or I'll break his glass windows about his ears." 

2 In Pre-Restoration stage-directions the term "study" generally connotes the 
lower inner stage. Cf. Histriomastix, Act i 5 The Dinj'tVs Charter, i. 4 and iv. 1 ; The 
Novella, Act 1 ; Satiromastix, i. 2 5 The Woman Hater, v. 1 ; 'TisPity She's a Whore, ii. 
1 and iii. 6. 

52 IVindows on the Pre-Restoration Stage 

has never left the sight of the audience. He has simply 
been watching at the back casement on the lower inner 

In The Alchemist (a Globe and Blackfriars play of circa 
1608), the fourth scene of Act iv is laid in a room in 
Lovewit's house. Dol comes in hurriedly with the intelli- 
gence that the master has suddenly returned. To convince 
Subtle and Face, she bids them cc look out and see ". Forty 
of the neighbours, she says, are standing around him, talk- 
ing. Face evidently looks out of the back window, for he 
recognizes Lovewit, who is not seen till the opening of the 
following act. 

In Middleton and Rowley's The Spanish Gypsie (a Cockpit 
and Salisbury Court play), Act i. 3 opens with a discovery 
on the lower inner stage. The scene is a darkened bedroom 
in Fernando's house. Left alone after the rape, Clara looks 
about her in hopes of being able to identify the place. 
" Help me ", she says — 

Help me my quicken'd senses ! tis a garden 

To which this window guides the covetous prospect, 

A large and fair one ; in the midst 

A curious alablaster fountain stands. 

All this she is supposed to see by aid of the moonlight 
streaming through the window. As in the case of the upper 
back casement, this window must have been situated in a 
back partition, and not in the outer wall of the theatre. At 
the beginning of the scene Roderigo departs through a door 
which he locks after him, and this door must certainly have 
been situated at the back of the stage. It formed the third 
mode of entrance to which reference is occasionally made in 
old stage-directions. * 

Elsewhere I have shown how, at the Restoration period, 
the prime characteristics of the obsolescent platform-stage 
were amalgamated with the essentials of the new picture- 

1 Cf. The Maydcs Metamorphosis, ii. 2 and iii. 2 ; The Fairy Pastoral! (i 600), "They 
cntrd at severall doores Lcarchus at the Midde doore." For probable position of door, 
see Mr. Walter II. Godfrey's conjectural designs of the interior of the Fortune Theatre, 
now reproduced. Its use is indicated in Volpone, or the Fox, iii. 5. 








R 7= 

c. w 
2 n 


• c 










Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage 53 

stage. 1 To this amalgamation were due the differential 
qualities which distinguished the English picture-stage of 
the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries from the picture- 
stages of the rest of Europe. Thanks to it the window- 
scene conventionalities of the non-scenic epoch were per- 
petuated for at least another fifty years. In placing the two 
normal entering doors of the old tiring-house facade in the 
proscenium arch at the front of the stage, the Restoration 
theatre-builders topped them with practicable windows 
surrounded by balconies. Whether this arrangement was 
strictly after the old system or a mere fusion of its manifold 
characteristics I cannot say, but at least it had the advan- 
tage of permitting a ready realization of many old stage 
effects. One calls it an advantage for the reason that for 
some years after the advent of the picture-stage the Eliza- 
bethan plays constituted the staple repertory of the players. 
Not only that, but new pieces were written now and again 
to some slight extent on old principles. Thus a recurrence 
of the popular wall-storming effect of the Elizabethan period 
is to be noted in the opening scene of DUrfey's tragedy, The 
Siege of Memphis, as acted at the Theatre Royal in 1676. 
At that late date this effect would not have been procured 
without the use of the proscenium balconies. New window 
scenes on the old principles were also conceived by the 
Restoration dramatist. We have a notable example of this 
in the anonymous comedy of The Mock Duellist ; or the 
French Valet, as produced at the Theatre Royal, Bridges 
Street, in 1675. In Act ii. 3, the exterior of the school- 
house, Kitty Noble appears at a window above, probably a 
casement, as she closes it at the end of the scene. In Act 
v. t, scene Covent Garden, Kitty lowers a rope ladder and 
Airy climbs up to the window. Years pass, the great century 
wanes and dies, and still we find the old effects being steadily 
repeated. In Shadwell's comedy of The Scowrers, as pro- 
duced at Drury Lane in 1691, excellent use was made of 
the proscenium balconies in the last act, at a juncture where 

1 See the paper on " Proscenium Doors j an Elizabethan Heritage," in the First 
Series of these Studies. 

54 Windows on the Pre-Restoration Stage 

the action takes place at opposite windows. Later examples, 
from the The Lying Lovers of Sir Richard Steele and other 
plays of the Augustan era, could readily be cited. But 
sufficient has been set forward to show how far-reaching 
was the influence of at least one or two of the Elizabethan 

The Origin of the Theatre Programme 

The Origin of the Theatre Programme 

In the popular misuse of a term one often gains a clue to 
the ramifications of its history. Up to a period within living 
memory the word playbill was commonly employed in the 
vernacular in the sense of programme, although, strictly 
considered, it signifies nothing more than a theatrical adver- 
tisement. In this perversion, reaching back a couple of 
hundred years, we have clear indication that the theatre 
programme was a belated offshoot of the archetypal playbill, 
or poster, just as the poster itself was a development of the 
oral announcement. In matters dealing with the history of 
words one generally turns to the New English Dictionary as 
the final arbiter, but in this particular case the great authority 
is to be found wanting. It ignores the longevous corruption 
of the term, despite notable examples of its use in the Essays 
of ' Elia y and fails deplorably in the attempted definition of 
it in its original sense. We are told that a playbill is "a bill 
or placard announcing a play and giving the names of the 
actors to whom the various parts are assigned." Here we 
have a distinct begging of the question, seeing that no proof 
has ever been advanced that the poster in the first century of 
its history bore the names of the players. For a thoroughly 
scientific definition of the term we have to turn to the 
Century Dictionary , where the difficulty is surmounted by the 
qualifying clause, "with or without cast and alternatively 
a programme." 

In the earliest days of the English drama the necessity for 
advertisement was as vital as it is to-day. About the year 
1483, when a company of actors went about the country 
giving performances of a moral play called The Castle of 
Perseverance^ they employed two advance agents, called 
Vexillators, whose duty it was to go a week beforehand to 
the places to be visited, and after much blowing of trumpets 
to announce the coming performance and its characteristics 

58 The Origin of the Theatre Programme 

in a well-conned, rhymed address. ! A similar course was 
followed in connexion with the Ludus Coventrize. Probably 
the Vexillators were not unknown in fifteenth-century 
London, but on that score evidence is lacking. What we do 
know is that, in slightly altered form, the custom introduced 
by them obtained in many country towns until the middle 
of the eighteenth century, and, for a time, existed cheek 
by jowl with the employment of playbills. Indicating the 
period of 1 740, in his account of the early Birmingham 
stage, Gilliland 2 writes : 

The first regular theatre was erected ten years afterwards in 
Moor-street, which gave another spring to the proceedings: in the 
day-time a drummer paraded the town, who beat his rounds, 
delivered his bills, and roared out encomiums on the entertain- 
ments of the evening, which, however, had not always the desired 
effect. We have been informed that the celebrated Yates had 
sustained this office ; and when we reflect that both himself and 
Shuter exercised their talents in a booth in Bartholomew fair, 
astonishment ceases. . . . 

In 1 75 1 a handsome Theatre was built in King-street, and 
opened in 1752 by a company announcing themselves "His 
Majesty's Servants " from the Theatres Royal, London. These 
persons expressed a wish that the townsmen would excuse the 
ceremony of the drum, alleging as a reason — the dignity of a London 
company. The novelty had a surprising effect; the performers 
pleased, and the house was continually crowded : the general con- 
versation turned upon theatricals ; and the town seemed to exhibit 
one vast theatre. 

Curiously enough, old Tate Wilkinson 3 tells a story to the 
exact contrary. Writing in 1 790 of his country experiences 
of thirty years or so earlier, he says : 

Another strange custom they had at Norwich, and if abolished 
it has not been many years, which was for a drummer and a 
trumpeter (not the King's) in every street to proclaim in an audible 

1 For fuller details, see Collier's Hist. Eng. Dram. Poetry (1S31), ii. 279-80. In 
France the progression from oral advertisement to playbills and thence to programmes 
affords a striking parallelism. For details of the announcement of a Mystery at Paris 
in 1540, see Hone's Ancient Mysteries Described (1823), pp. 177-9. 

2 The Dramatic Mirror (1808), i. p. 203. 

3 Memoirs of His Oivn Life (Dublin, 1791), ii. 250-2. 

The Origin of the 'Theatre Programme 59 

voice, having been assisted by his shrill notes to summons each 
garreteer, without which ceremony the gods would not submit to 
descend from their heights into the streets to inquire what play 
was to be acted, nor ascend into the gallery. 

A custom of this kind prevailed so far with a Mr. Herbert's 
Lincolnshire company in the time of our revered, well-remembered, 
and beloved Marquis of Granby, that when at Grantham the 
players determined to omit the usual ceremony of the drum, 
wishing to grow more polite ; and by obstinate perseverance, Lady 
Jane Grey, Mary Queen of Scots, King Henry the Eighth, the 
King of France, nay even Cardinal Wolsey had no command, 
attraction, or power over the populace when they lost their accus- 
tomed and so much loved sound of the drum and trumpet. . . . 
The Marquis of Granby sent for the manager of the troop, and 
said to him, " Mr. Manager, I like a play; I like a player; and 
shall be glad to serve you : — but my good friend, why are you so 
suddenly offended at and averse to the noble sound of a drum ? — 
I like it," said the Marquis, "and all the inhabitants like it. Put 
my name on your playbill, provided you drum, but not otherwise. 
Try the effect on tomorrow night; if then you are as thinly 
attended as you have lately been, shut up your playhouse at once ; 
but if it succeeds, drum away." The manager communicated this 
edict to the princes, princesses, peers and peeresses ; and not only 
they, but even the ambitious stepmother^ gave up all self-considera- 
tion for the public weal ; and it was after some debate voted nem 
con in favour of the drum: they deigned to try Lord Granby's 
suggestion and to their pleasing astonishment their little theatre 
was brim-full on the sound of the drum and Lord Granby's name ; 
after which night they row-didi-dow'd away, had a very successful 
season and drank flowing bowls to the health of the noble Marquis. 

One notes from both Gilliland and Tate Wilkinson that 
London had never taken kindly to the itinerant drummer- 
cum-crier. Doubtless any attempts that were made in the 
mid-sixteenth century to introduce the practice there met 
with stern disapproval from the Common Council. 1 Even 
in the distinctively inn-yard era it was not a question of one 
company but several; and a multiplicity of drummers would 
mean the distraction of prentices and the ready gathering of 

1 The drummer and crier (two individuals working together) were institutions in 
Paris early in the seventeenth century. Cf. Eugene Rigal, Le Theatre Franfais avant la 
Periode Classique, p. 197 note 5. 

60 The Origin of the Theatre Programme 

riotous, stall-looting mobs. Hence the origin, in or about 
1560, 1 of the playbill as poster. Possibly only a few bills 
would be required for each performance in the beginning, 
not more than half a dozen, and the necessity for going to 
the expense of printing would therefore be obviated. Seeing 
that the announcement would be of the briefest, merely the 
date, hour and place of performance and the title of the play, 
it would not be a severely irksome task for the Book-holder 
to execute them by hand. One surmises that the primitive 
playbill was in manuscript from the fact that at the close 
of the century, when the excessive rivalry of the numerous 
theatres on both sides of the river led to the printing of 
bills through a vastly increased issue, the MS. bill is found 
persisting side by side with the printed bill. 2 The monopoly 
which John Charlewood enjoyed from the Stationers' Com- 
pany of printing playbills did not hinder any person from 
writing his own. In the induction to A Warning for Faire 
Women (1599), Tragedy, after a dispute, lays her whip about 
the shoulders of Comedy and History in saying : 

'Tis you have kept the Theatres so long, 
Painted in playbills upon every post, 
That I am scorned of the multitude. 

Here "painted" seems to imply resort to the brush rather 
than the printing press in the execution of bills. At best, 
however, no great stress can be laid on the evidence, con- 
sidering that MS. bills in 1 599 must have been the exception, 
not the rule. On the other hand it can be clearly shown that 
at a slightly later period MS. bills of various kinds were still 
posted. Preserved among the Alleyn Papers at Dulwich is 
aBear-Garden poster 3 of the time of James I (before 1614), 
written in a large coarse hand, after the manner doubtless 
followed in all manuscript bills. The wording runs : 

1 Cf. Collier, op. cit. iii. 382, extracts from Strype's Life of Grindall. The affichc 
was utilized in France at least as early as 1556. See Eugene Rigal, op. cit. p. 197 
note 2. 

2 In the country strollers had no option but to resort to manuscript bills. In 1 59- 
the Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge wrote to the Privy Council complaining that the 
Queen's Players had set up "writings about our College gates" (Collier, op. cit. i. 

3 Warner's Dulwich Catalogue, p. 83. 

The Origin of the Theatre Programme 61 

Tomorrowe beinge Thursdaie shalbe seen at the Bear-gardin on 
the banckside a greate mach plaid by the gamsters of Essex, who 
hath chalenged all comers whatsoever to plaie V dogges at the 
single beare for V pounds, and also to wearie a bull dead at the 
stake ; and for your better content shall have plasent sport with 
the horse and ape and whiping of the blind beare. Vivat Rex ! 

The loyal flourish at the end not only helps to date the bill 
but serves opportunely to refute a hitherto uncontroverted 
conjecture of Steevens' upon which Malone has put his 
endorsement. l Steevens' idea was that the custom of placing 
"Vivat Rex" at the foot of a playbill originated by way of 
substitute for the older system of praying for the King and 
Queen at the end of the play. But the prayer was woven 
into the epilogue of Locrine in 1595, before which time the 
conventional flourish had certainly been added to the bills. It 
cannot be pretended that prayers for the reigning monarch 
were ever offered up after a bullfight or a bear-baiting, and 
yet we find the "Vivat Rex" at the end of a Bear-Garden 
poster. The truth is that, time out of mind, the loyal flourish 
was a feature of all proclamations, and that the playbill, being 
purely an outgrowth of the oral announcement, was to all 
intents and purposes a proclamation. In dismissing the 
subject one may point out that what had originally been a 
characteristic of the poster eventually became the inheritance 
of the programme. With necessary variants, and sometimes 
rendered into English, "Vivat Rex" held its place at the 
foot of the bills to the close of the reign of William IV. 

By complex reasoning one arrives at the conclusion that 
the normal playbill of the Elizabethan era was characterized 
by its brevity. To be stuck on a street-post it had to be small, 
and to attract the passer-by it had to be bold. Displayed 
matter on a moderate-sized bill could not be very verbose. 
One recalls that when Belch, in the fifth act of Histriomastix 
(1598), is asked by the Captain what he is setting up, he 
replies, "Text-bills for plays." This either means bills 
written in a large round hand or bills printed in prominent 

1 Malone's Shakespeare (Dublin, 1794), ii. p. 105. 

6i The Origin of the Theatre Programme 

capitals. At the foot of his list of properties in The Fairy 
Pastoral! or Forrest of Elves (circa 1 600), Percy notifies the 
players : 

Now if it be so that the Properties of any of These, that be 
outward, will not serve the turne by reason of concurse of the 
People on the Stage, Then you may omitt the sayd Properties 
which be outward and supplye their Places with their Nuncupa- 
tions onely in Text Letters. 

While there is good reason to believe, as I shall presently 
show, that the title of the play stood out prominently on 
the poster, Collier's theory that "the names of tragedies, 
for greater distinction, were ordinarily printed in red ink" ! 
must be scouted. His evidence is the prologue to The 
Cardinal, a Blackfriars play of 1641. My quotation from 
this must be more liberal than his : 

The Cardinal! 'Cause we express no scene, 

We do believe most of you, gentlemen, 

Are at this hour in France, and busy there, 

Though you vouchsafe to lend your bodies here ; 

But keep your fancy active, till you know, 

By the progress of our play, 'tis nothing so. 

A poet's art is to lead on your thought 

Through subtle paths and workings of a plot ; 

And when your expectation does not thrive, 

If things fall better, yet you may forgive. 

I will say nothing positive; you may 

Think what you please ; we call it but a Play : 

Whether the comic Muse, or ladies' love, 

Romance, or direful tragedy it prove, 

The bill determines not ; and would you be 

Persuaded I would have 't a Comedy, 

For all the purple in the name, and state 

Of him that owns it. 

Dutton Cook's mild protest, " but this may be a reference 
to the colour of a cardinal's robes," 2 sufficing as it is by way 
of rejoinder, hardly expresses one's irritation over Collier's 

1 op. cit. iii. 3S6. Obviously basing on this, J. Churton Collins, in his imagina- 
tive picture of the Elizabethan Theatres (Posthumous Essays, p. 16), conjures up visions 
of posters in red ! 

2 A Book of the Play (3rd edit., 1881), p. 55. 

The Origin of the Theatre Programme 6 2 

momentary stupidity. There was doubtless a spice of truth in 
Tragedy's plaint in A Warning for F "aire Women that History 
and Comedy had beaten her out of the field, and that being 
so, the players were not likely to set up invidious distinctions 
in their bills. Quaere, was it the ill vogue of tragedy or mere 
affectation that urged Shirley to bill The Cardinal vaguely as 
"a play" ? 

The point is altogether new and may fail to win acceptance 
simply because of its novelty, but it seems to me that many 
of the insignificant titles of old comedies were mere catch- 
titles designed to arrest the attention of — perhaps even 
momentarily to deceive — the wayfarer. What other purpose 
could be served in giving plays such titles as Look About You; 
Come, See a Wonder; News from Plymouth ; As Tou Like It; 
If You know not me, You know Nobody ; A Mad World, my 
Masters ? The list might be multiplied indefinitely. To my 
mind, these catch-titles indicate that in the bills the name of 
the play was given excessive prominence, so that they might 
possess attraction even at a distance. Showmanship did not 
begin with Barnum ! 

The chances are there were two sorts of Elizabethan play- 
bills or posters, the mysterious and the elucidative. The 
mysterious would be the Comedy bills, in which the catch- 
titles were left in the vague. The elucidative would be 
the Tragedy or History bills in which a straightforward 
title would be explained to the vulgar. In the first edition 
of his Historical Account of the English Stage, Malone inclined 
to the opinion that the long and whimsical titles of the 
Shakesperean quartos were transcribed from the playbills 
of the period. Subsequently he changed his mind on finding 
that the booksellers were prone to disfigure other books and 
pamphlets with "long-tailed titles ". He points out that 
Nashe, in the second edition of his Supplication to the Devil 
(1592), commands the printer to delete the discursive title 
page which had appeared in the first issue, "and let mee not 
in the fore-front of my booke make a tedious mountebanks 
oration to the reader." 1 But, despite Malone's conclusions, 

1 Malone's Shakespeare (Dublin, 1794), ii. pp. 1 14-5. 

64 The Origin of the Theatre Programme 

there is some reason to believe that discursive sub-titles 
were not altogether foreign to the Tragedy and History 
(and sometimes even the Comedy) bills. I base here 
on the persistence of theatrical custom, that great main- 
stay of the deductive historian. In the first half of the 
eighteenth century, when the playbill and the programme 
were identical, one occasionally finds Shakespearean bills 
with long-tailed titles. These bear some resemblance in 
structure to the title pages of the old quartos, and seem 
otherwise to imply the dying struggles of a hoary convention. 
By way of example let us take the early title page of The 
Tragedy of King Richard the Third, which runs on "Contain- 
ing, His treacherous Plots against his brother Clarence : 
the pittieful murther of his innocent nephewes : his tyran- 
nicall vsurpation : with the whole course of his detested 
life, and most deserued death." In early eighteenth-century 
playbills dealing with the tragedy this wording is departed 
from, for the very good reason that Colley Cibber's version 
had ousted the genuine play from the field. But, if a trifle 
more diffuse, the structure is much the same. Thus, in a 
Dublin playbill of the Theatre Royal, Smock Alley, for 
22 March, 1 730-1, one finds it announced that there 

Will be acted the True and Ancient History of King Richard 
the Third, Written by the famous Shakespear. Containing the 
distresses and death of King Henry the Sixth ; The artful acquisi- 
tion of the crown by King Richard, The cruel murder of young 
King Edward the Fifth, and his brother the Duke of York, in the 
tower, The fall of the Duke of Buckingham, The landing of the 
Duke of York at Milford Haven, The death of King Richard in 
the memorable battle of Bosworth-field, being the last that was 
fought between the contending Houses of York and Lancaster, 
With many other historical passages. 1 

As indicative of the persistence of playhouse formulae, 
and the inter-relationship of the old London and Dublin 
theatres, it may be pointed out that in the bill of Garrick's 

1 Robert Hitchcock, An Historical View of the Irish Stage (1788), i. 53, where a 
corrupt and incomplete copy of the bill is given. In the above excerpt I have followed 
the wording in the advertisement published in Faulkner's Dublin Journal for 20 March, 

The Origin of the Theatre Programme 6$ 

first appearance on the London Stage, 1 an event that 
occurred at Goodman's Fields on 19 October, 1741, the 
long-tailed title of Cibber's play is almost word for word 
with the above. It may be, however, that in seeing in all 
this the long-sustained influence of an unproved conven- 
tion 1 am speaking beyond my brief. Evidence might be 
advanced to show that the discursive bill dated no further 
back than the dawn of the eighteenth century. Lowe points 
out that 

In the Key to the Rehearsal, published in 1704, the publisher 
states that his author declaimed against the practice of the English 
stage, saying that he believed that the regular theatres were in a 
confederacy to ruin the Fair of Smithfield, " by outdoing them in 
their bombastic bills, and ridiculous representing their plays." 2 

In this connexion it is noteworthy that Cibber's showy 
perversion of King Richard III had first seen the light 
at Drury Lane only two or three years previously. If 
Colley really introduced the bombastic bill, then my idea 
of the persistence of an old convention must fall to the 

In his valuable work on Shakespeare in Germany, Albert 
Cohn gives in an appendix an interesting playbill, issued 
in German by a troupe of English players who were acting 
on the Continent in or about 1 6 1 3 . Making due allowance 
for the fact that it is the opening bill of a travelling com- 
pany, this bill probably preserves something of the form 
and phraseology of the early Jacobean posters. Cohn's 
appended translation reads : 

Know all men, that a new Company of Comedians have arrived 
here, who have never been seen before in this country with a right 
merry Clown, who will act every day fine Comedies, Tragedies, 
Pastorals, and Histories, intermixed with lovely and merry Inter- 
ludes, and today Wednesday the 21st of April 3 they will present 
a right merry Comedy called Love's Sweetness turned into Death's 
Bitterness. After the Comedy will be presented a fine Ballet and 

1 Reproduced in Joseph Knight's David Garrick, p. 22. 

2 R. W. Lowe, Thomas Betterton, p. 13. 

3 This date fell upon a Wednesday in 161 3 and 161 9. 


66 The Origin of the Theatre Programme 

laughable Droll. 1 The Lovers of such plays must make their 
appearance at the Fencing-house in the afternoon at 2 o'clock, 
where the play will begin at the appointed hour precisely. 

To some extent this bill apparently justifies the impres- 
sion that the phraseology of the old play-titles in quarto 
was adopted from the playbills. In reading it one's mind 
instinctively reverts to "A Most pleasaunt and excellent 
conceited Comedie, of Syr John Falstaffe, and the merrie 
Wiues of Windsor. Entermixed with sundrie variable and 
pleasing humors, of Syr Hugh" etc. 2 It may be, as argued 
by Mantzius, 3 that Shakespeare girds mockingly at the play- 
bill formula in making Philostrate read out about "a tedious 
brief scene of young Pyramus, And his love Thisbe ; very 
tragical mirth." 

Erroneous inferences have been drawn from the entry 
in the books of the Stationers' Company recording the 
license granted to Charlewood for the printing of playbills. 
It. runs thus : 

October, 1587, John Charlewood. Lycensed to him by the 
whole consent of the Assistants the onlye ymprinting of all manner 
of billes for players. Provided that if any trouble arise herebye, 
then Charlewood to beare the charges. 4 

"All manner of billes for players" has been widely 
interpreted by latter-day inquirers. Some think it refers to 
different sizes of playbills '\ and some that it points to the 
existence of programmes. 6 All, to my mind, are wrong. On 
close examination it would appear that the word "players" 
was here used in a very loose sense, and that the passage is 
elucidated by another in the abstract of the Letters Patent 
granted in 1620 to Roger Wood and Thomas Symcocks, 

1 Read " some excellent dancing and a laughable Jig." 

2 Quarto of 1602. 3 History of Theatrical Art, iii. p. 108. 

4 Collier, op. cit. iii. 382 note. 

5 Cf. Gent's Mag., June, 1900, p. 532, Percy Fitzgerald's article on "The Play- 
bill ; Its Growth and Evolution." Mr. Fitzgerald confuses the issue by speaking of 
" all manner of bills for plays" 

6 Cf. Sir Sidney Lee, Life of Shakespeare, 1899, p. 303, where James Roberts, 
Charlewood's successor, is spoken of as having the right to print "the players' bills or 

The Origin of the Theatre Programme 67 

"for the sole printing of paper and parchment on the one 
side." Among other things they were granted a monopoly 
of the printing of "all Billes for Playes, Pastimes, Showes, 
Challenges, Prizes or Sportes whatsoever." l Some of these 
challenges and sports, such as fencing matches and cock- 
fights, were often given in the early public theatres. On 
ti February, 1602-3, we find Chamberlain writing to 
Dudley Carleton : 

On Monday last here was a great prise and challenge performed 
at the Swan betweene two fencers Dun and Turner, wherein Dun 
had so ill lucke that the other ran him into the eye with a foile, 
and so far into the head that he fell downe starke dead, and never 
spake word nor once moved. 

Bearing the principle of the post in mind, it is unthink- 
able that playbills of widely varying sizes should have been 
issued; and for other reasons equally unthinkable that two 
different kinds of bills (say a placard and a programme) 
should have been printed for the one performance, ^pos- 
teriori argument is here legitimate, for the principle of the 
maintenance of theatrical custom again asserts itself. It 
will be shown later that when the programme or playbill 
with cast of characters came into existence it had for long no 
separate identity, being merely an improved placard made 
to do double duty. 

To maintain this idea of "one performance one playbill" 
it will have to be conceded that about the middle of the 
reign of James I the conventional poster was put to more 
extended use. It seems to have been delivered to well-to-do 
patrons of the play, and may, perhaps, have been put up in 
certain kinds of shops. Later on we shall find evidence 
in the Post-Restoration period of the delivery of the bill 
(while still devoid of any suspicion of cast) to private people 
of good standing. So far as Jacobean times are concerned 
the custom seems to be indicated in The Devil is An Ass 
(161 6), i. 2, where Engine hands Fitzdottrell the playbill 
for the day. 

1 Collier, op. cit. iii. 383. 

68 The Origin of the Theatre Programme 

Only one approximation to a programme is known of in 
Pre-Restoration times, and that appears to be the exception 
proving the rule. It fails to present a cast of characters, with 
the names of the players, and is wholly taken up with an 
elaborate synopsis of a proposed performance. I refer to 
a broadsheet (of which I give a reduced facsimile) preserved 
in the collection of the Society of Antiquaries of London, 
and bearing title, "The Plot of the Play called England's 
Joy. To be Played at the Swan this 6 of November, 1 602." 1 
Neatly printed within an ornamental border and headed 
by the royal arms, this measures I2f inches by 7 J inches. 
Whether or not it was intended for use as a programme, it 
certainly was designed for distribution as a lure. From the 
extent of the matter and the comparative smallness of the 
type one can readily divine it was not intended for a poster, 
a conclusion confirmable by other evidence (shortly to be 
advanced), which shows that a separate poster must also have 
been issued. Exactly a hundred years have elapsed since 
this remarkably interesting broadside was first reprinted 
in The Harleian Miscellany 2 , and, strange to say, it has only 
once been reproduced since. 3 

The sequel to the distribution of this enticing broadsheet 
is told in a gossippy letter from Chamberlain to Dudley 
Carleton, written 1 9 November, 1 602 : 

And now we are in mirth, I must not forget to tell you of a 
cousening prancke of one Venner, of Lincoln's Inne, that gave out 
bills of a famous play on Satterday was sevenight on the Bancke- 
side, to be acted only by certain gentlemen and gentlewomen of 
account. The price at cumming in was two shillings or eighteen- 
pence at least ; and when he had gotten most part of the mony 
into his hands he wold have shewed them a faire paire of heeles, 
but he was not so nimble to get up on horsebacke, but that he was 
faine to forsake that course and betake himselfe to the water, where 
he was pursued and taken, and brought before the Lord Chicfe 
Justice, who wold make nothing of it but a jest and a merriment, 
and bounde him over in five pounds to appeare at the sessions. In 

1 No. 98 in Lemon's Catalogue of 1866. 2 Vol. x. 198. 

3 See Dr. Wm. Martin's article "An Elizabethan Theatre Programme," in The 
Selborne Magazine and Nature Notes, xxiv, No. 277, January, 191 3, pp. 16-20. 

^WVWV$W#*rt&%& kS&kM $ ^^w&&? -<x v$ -^ 


' Ef*cgLJ*(psfor. 

• Tobel'laydatthcS'.vanth^rf.ofN'oucmber. ie<o2. 


IRST.therrisind'.ieiby fhe<vandin Action, the ciuiil warrrs of England 
from fJnWthc third, to the end of Quccne iMoiu raigne, with the 
oucrthrow of V'furpation. 

Secondly then the entrance of Englandsloy by the Coronation of oar » ': ■'•; « 

SoueraigncLadv EbfjtbeMna Throne attended with peace. Plenty, and ci- 
uill Polhcy: A iacrcd Pwlatc Handing at her right hand, betokening the 
scre-i-y of ihc Gofpcll : At her left hand Iuftice : And at h;r feet.- WartC, 
with a Scarlet Roabc of pcice vpon Ins Armour: A wreath of Bates 
about his temples, and a braunch of Palme in his hind. 

n three furies, prefenting' DifTstrion.T'aminc, and Bloodfbcd,»bieh are throwne 

4 Fourthly is exorefl vndcr the perfon of a Tyrant, the enoy oi S- tj* 
canftth his Souldiers dragee in a beaotinill Lady, rhome they man : - 
nicnti and kwds-from off her: And io lcauc her bloody, with her haj 
ing vron the ground. To her come tcttaine Gentlemen, who 

i : >C ; I tunic to the Throne of England, from whence one defcendeth , takctfa rp the Lady, wipeta I 
tffftr eyes, BTndeth vp her wounde*, riutth her treaTdRJ and bringcth forth a band oi Sobers, w 
Vc'V^ ar-end her forth; This Lady prcfcnteih5;fo«. 

her I it cruelty MJl 

i tearing her gar- 
ber (houldera, ly- 
ou! difpoylment, 
Lady, wipeth her 








Lady prcfcnteih 

5,'hcTvrantmorcenraged,taVethcounre;i,fend_sfor:h letters, pr: 
miners, r.iking their utiles, and giuing them bagges of trcafu c. I - 
lefuires, who afterward, when the Tyrant lookes for an ar.. i ,-:.: ft ■ rl 
a glafle viith halters about their neckes, which makes him mad nth h 

6 Si\tly, the Tyrant feeing all frcrer rr.canes to fayle hi n . ; v. 
by the hand of W.rre, whereupon is fct forth the battle a: Sea in 

7 SCQCnthly, lice compictrcth wi 
of7'yrw, tiic landing there of D; 
tour of the Lord iJMmatmt. 

= pies, and fecrct vnder- 

- n and ccrtainc 

_:c (hewed ;o him in 




:Ii the Itilh rebclles, wherein is 
» I*hn dc <s4£h.U, and their t:. 

8 1 ,ghrly,'a great triumph is made with fighting of rwcl 
wards unt ncni the "llironc ot England, to all forces or « 

tnd maafion 


and fjndne re- 


>N/. t 
' • \" * 

befil "• t : ^e 

g Lattly, the Nine Worthves, with fcucrall Ccrcncrs. pre f en 

which aic put backe by eertaine in the habite of Angels, who tet vpon the I idics head 

ptcients her Maieil.c, an Empcriall Crowr.e, gatnidxd with the Some, \M>*mi 

vith Mulickc both with voyce . nd lice is taken vp into Heat: 

pcarcs, a Throne of bleffed Joules, and beneath vnder the S;a;c 

workes, diners blade and damned Soaks, ronderiuU) difcribed in '- drfeucraMtonnena 




) ■ * t 

Throne, if.,\± 
itnichrc- ^i~f, 
; And.: 

THE PLOT OF ENGLAND'S JOT. [To face p. 68. 

(Reduced facsimile of the broad-sheet preserved in the collection of the 
Society of Antiquaries). 

The Origin of the Theatre Programme 69 

the meantime the common people, when they saw themselves 
deluded, revenged themselves upon the hangings, curtains, chairs, 
stooles, walles, and whatsoever came in their way, very outragiously, 
and made great spoile ; there was great store of good companie, 
and many noblemen. 1 

In this account we have clear evidence that a poster 
announcing the performance was also issued. The broad- 
side holds out no lure that the play was "to be acted 
only by certain gentlemen and gentlewomen of account." 
Chamberlain's information could only have been derived 
from some other bill. It was substantially correct, for we 
find Slug in Ben Jonson's Masque of Augurs (1622), referring 
to the distressed ladies who were about to appear as " three 
of those gentlewomen that should have acted in that famous 
matter of England's Joy in 'six hundred and three." (One 
can pardon the blunder in the dating after an interval of 
twenty years.) 

Whether or not the whole affair was an elaborate swindle 
— and, as we shall see, there was a decided "if" in the 
matter — contemporary literature abounds with references 
to England's Joy as "a gulling toy". 2 Irritated beyond en- 
durance by these goadings, Richard Vennar issued in 16 14 
an Apology for his life, in which he denied all intent to defraud, 
and explained that he was arrested by bailiffs immediately 
before the performance. But if the project was really 
genuine why did he collect all the money at the door instead 
of following the regular practice of interior gathering during 
the performance ? Doubts as to his good faith are deepened 
when one finds him arrested in 1 606 on suspicion of having 
attempted to defraud Sir John Spencer of £500,01 connexion 
with a mythical masque he alleged to have in preparation for 
production under the patronage of Sir John Watts, the Lord 
Mayor. 3 Moreover, he was always desperately pressed for 
money, and died at last in a debtor's prison. The case against 

1 Camden Society, Vol. lxxix. 1861, Letters of John Chamberlain, p. 163. 

2 Cf. Jonson's Love Restored (Henry Morley's Masques and Entertainments by 
Ben Jonson, p. 167) ; Collier, op. cit. iii. 406 ; Ordish's Early London Theatres, p. 273. 
The prologue to D'Avenant's opera, The Siege of Rhodes, Part II, seems also to make 
reference to England's Joy. 3 Diet. Nat. Biog., sub nomine. 

70 The Origin of the Theatre Programme 

him undoubtedly looks black, but something may be said for 
the defence. It would appear that the " book " of England's 
Joy really existed, and that William Fennar, the extemporal 
rhymster (whose identity has occasionally been confounded 
with Vennar's T ), appropriated it while Vennar was in prison, 
and palmed the production on the public as his own. We 
learn these details from "My Defence against thy Offence, " 
some lines written by John Taylor, the water-poet, replying 
to an attack of Fennar's, and published in A Cast over IVater 
in 1 6 1 5 : 

Thou bragst what fame thou got 'st upon the stage. 

Indeed, thou set'st the people in a rage 

In playing England' 's Joy, that every man 

Did judge it worse then that was done at Swan 

• •••••••• 

Upon S. Georges day last, sir, you gave 
To eight Knights of the Garter (like a knave), 
Eight manuscripts (or Books) all fairelie writ, 
Informing them, they were your -mother wit: 
And you compil'd them ; then were you regarded, 
And for another's wit was well rewarded. 
All this is true, and this I dare maintaine, 
The matter came from out a learned braine : 
And poor old Vennor that plaine dealing man, 
Who acted England's Joy first at the Swan, 
Paid eight crowns for the writing of these things, 
Besides the covers, and the silken strings. 

If we assume for the nonce that Vennar's broadside was 
issued in good faith, then it may be taken, from the tenor of 
the synopsis as well as from the fact that ladies and gentlemen 
were to be the exponents, that the projected device was not 
a play but a masque. Here we have a clue to the unexampled 
issue of a programme. In the court masques it was customary 
to present the King, and probably one or two other notable 
people, with a "pasteboard" or scenario of the performance. 
Evidence on this point is indirect but none the less satisfac- 
tory. It is derived from certain plays presenting introduced 

1 Cf. Collier, op. cit. iii. 406, for GifTord ; Ordish's Early London Theatres, p. 272. 

The Origin of the theatre Programme 71 

masques, in which the custom is punctiliously followed. 1 
Hence, were it not that Vennar's innovation proved abortive, 
one might be disposed to say that the modern theatre pro- 
gramme originated at Court. 

In connexion with the early playbill, or poster, a moot 
point suggests itself. When did the practice of publishing 
the author's name begin ? The evidence is very contradic- 
tory. Dryden, whose memory went back to the dawn of 
the Restoration, told Mrs. Stewart in a letter that the first 
occasion, cc at least in England", on which a dramatist's name 
was given on the bill was in March, 1 699, when Congreve's 
The Double Dealer was revived at Lincoln's Inn Fields. 2 In 
France the practice had begun at least as early as 1629. 3 
Judging from Dryden's testimony, and on the basis of the 
persistence of theatrical custom, one would be disposed 
to conclude that it was unknown in England in Pre- 
Restoration times. Some scanty evidence, however, exists 
to the contrary. In Histriomastix (a private-theatre play of 
circa 1599) a scene 4 occurs in which the characters are shown 
reading a prologue which concludes with "Our Prologue 
Peaceth." "Peaceth!" exclaims Gulch, "what peaking 
Pageanter penned that ? " To which Belch responds, " who 
but Master Post-haste ? " Remark Gulch's biting comment : 
"It is as dangerous to read his name at a play-door, as a 
printed bill on a plague door." 

This seems to settle the point, but if it was usual to set 
up a bill at the playhouse door, wherein lies the saliency 
of the epigram ? — 

Magus would needs, forsooth, the other day, 

Upon an idle humour, see a play, 

When asking him at door, who held the box 

What might you call the play ? Quoth he The Fox, etc. 5 

1 Cf. Shirley's The Constant Maid, iv. 3 ; Ford's The Lover's Melancholy, iii. 3 5 
and Middleton's No Wit Like a Woman 's, introduced Masque of the Elements. 

2 Cf. R. W. Lowe, Thomas Betterton, p. 1 3 note. 

3 See Arthur Pougin, Le Theatre a V Exposition Universale de 1889, p. 17, for 
facsimile affiche, Cf. Rigal, Le Theatre Francais avant la Pe'riode Classique, p. 198. 

4 Cf. Simpson's School of Shakspere, ii. p. 62. 

5 The Mouse-Trap, "Epigrams by H. P." London, 1606. 

72 The Origin of the Theatre Programme 

It may be, however, that the one item of evidence does 
not nullify the other. The Fox was a Globe and Blackfriars 
play, and, assuming the house visited by Magus to be the 
Blackfriars, it might be plausibly argued that playbills were 
not posted outside the early private theatres. There is, 
indeed, some reason to believe, that in accordance with its 
establishment as a virtual (not merely technical) "private 
house", so as to evade the repressions of the Common 
Council, the first Blackfriars issued no bills whatsoever. 1 
In that case we may assume that the giving out of the next 
play at the close 2 , so long followed on the English theatres, 
was called into being by this severe restriction and at this 
particular house. At a subsequent period, when the practice 
had been generally adopted, it might very well have been 
utilized when a new play by a popular author was about to 
be produced, to whet the public appetite by revealing the 
author's name. Be that as it may, indications exist to show 
that occasionally there was deviation from routine. We 
have, for example, Henry Moody's lines on Massinger's 
A New Way to Pay Old Debts, a Cockpit play of 1633 : — 

The thronged audience that was thither brought 
Invited by your fame and to be taught. 

Again, the prologue to William Habington's tragi- 
comedy, The Queen of Ar agon, as spoken at the Blackfriars 
early in 1640, seems to imply that the author's name was 
then given on the bill : — 

First, for the plot, it's no way intricate 
By cross deceits in love, nor so high in state, 
That we might have given out in our playbill 
This day 's The Prince, writ by Nick Machiavil. 

The playbill formula of the early Restoration period 
seems indicated in the Prologue to The Adventures of Five 
Hours, in which, as given at Lincoln's Inn Fields, the speaker 
read out from a bill in his hands, "This day, the 15th of 
December, shall be acted a new play, never played before, 

1 See my discussion of this point in The Elizabethan Playhouse and other Studies 
(First Series), pp. 231-2. 

8 Vide ibid., p. I 3 note 2. 

The Origin of the Theatre Programme 73 

called c The Adventures of Five Hours/ " l In our present 
state of knowledge the evidence is inconclusive, but if the 
author's name was really given on the bill in the time of 
Charles I, it is impossible to divine why anonymity should 
have been preserved at the Restoration. Such a remarkable 
divergence from theatrical custom is against all precedent. 
One cannot plead the interregnum, for other theatrical 
customs survived it. 

Coming now more directly to the question of the origin 
of the programme, with cast of characters, one knows of 
only one item of evidence which could be twisted to imply 
that this may be traced to Jacobean times. Discussing the 
alleged sinfulness of boys masquerading in women's attire, 
Hey wood writes in his Apologie for Actors: 

But to see our youths attired in the habit of women, who knows 
not what their intents be ? Who cannot distinguish them by their 
names, assuredly knowing they are but to represent such a lady at 
such a time appoynted ? 

Three years, however, before this was published Dekker 
had written in his Guls Homebooke : 

By sitting on the stage, you may (with small cost) purchase the 
deere acquaintance of the boys : have a good stoole for sixpence ; 
at any time know what particular part any of the infants present : get 
your match lighted, examine the play-suits lace, and perhaps win 
wagers upon laying 'tis copper, &c. 

Happily there is no need to labour the point, for if there 
be one thing more assured than another about the routine 
of the Elizabethan playhouses it is the entire absence of 
programmes. The persistence of the title-board convention 2 
would, of itself, warrant us in arriving at this conclusion, 
even if all other proof were lacking. As a matter of fact the 
programme, as differentiated from the placard, had not yet 
sprung into existence anywhere. France was very belated 

1 This would apparently date the production at 15 December, 1662, although the 
impression to be gained from Pepys and Evelyn is that the first performance took place 
on 8 January, 1662-3. 

2 See the First Series of these Studies, pp. 50-1. 

74 The Origin of the Theatre Programme 

in adopting it, and, when it came, England pioneered the 
way. It sounds audacious to say so, but it is none the less 
true that in point of expediency, as well as from an artistic 
standpoint, the absence of the programme in early days 
was a blessing in disguise. When necessity demanded 
it the play could be changed at the eleventh hour. The 
exposure of the title-board gave the spectator fair notice of 
what he was going to see, and if it liked him not he could 
have his money back and take his departure. There were 
favourite actors in Shakespeare's time as there have been in 
all times, but the Elizabethan playgoer went to see a play, 
not a particular actor in a particular part, for no cast was 
guaranteed. In the event of illness a secondary actor could 
be substituted for Burbage or Alleyn in one of their popular 
characters, and that without apology. 

However the applause might be distributed in the theatre, 
the actors were on a plane of equality, fraternal members of 
a commonwealth. The inartistic principle of the star per- 
former with the fancy salary came into being in the early 
eighteenth century. Dutton Cook 1 gave it as his opinion 
that Garrick was the first actor to receive the invidious dis- 
tinction of having his name printed in the bills in capital 
letters of extra size. He cites a humorous passage from 
The Connoisseur of 1754 to the effect that 

The writer of the play bills deals out his capitals in so just a 
proportion that you may tell the salary of each actor by the size 
of the letter in which his name is printed. When the present 
manager of Drury Lane first came on the stage, a new set of types, 
two inches long, were cast on purpose to do honour to his extra- 
ordinary merit. 

We come now to Collier's attempt to controvert Malone's 
statement that the playbill with cast of characters dated no 
farther back than the beginning of the eighteenth century. 2 
In support of his contention Collier had nothing better to 
offer than the following suppositious bill : — 

1 A Book oj the Play, Chap, v (on playbills). 

2 Collier, op. cit. iii. p. 384 note ; Malone's Shakespeare (Dublin, 1794), ii. 113. 

The Origin of the theatre Programme 75 

By his Majesty's Company of Comedians, 
At the new Theatre in Drury-lane, 
This day being Thursday, April 8th, 1663, w ^ be acted, 

A Comedy, called 

The King Mr Wintershal 

Demetrius Mr Hart 

Selevers Mr Burt 

Leontius Major Mohun 

Lieutenant Mr Clun 

Celiae Mrs Marshall 

The play will begin at three o'clock exactly. 
Boxes 4s; Pit 2s. 6d ; Middle Gallery is. 6d; Upper Gallery is. 

For practically a quarter of a century no suspicion was 
entertained as to the genuineness of this bill 1 , but in 1854 
a correspondent signing himself a F. L.," wrote to Notes 
and Queries 2 pointing out certain flaws which justified the 
belief that the whole was a forgery. These were as follows: 

(1) The bill is fully dated. It was not customary to put 

the year on the bills until 1767. 

(2) 8 April, 1 662, fell on a Wednesday, not a Thursday. 

(3) On 8 May, i663,Pepys took his wife to the "Theatre 

Royal, being the second day of its being opened. " 

(4) In the same entry Pepys also states that by the King's 

command Lacy was now acting the part of the 
Lieutenant, formerly acted by Clun. 
Some consideration of these items may be entered upon 
with the sole view of strengthening "F. L.'s" argument. 
(1) This is substantially correct, assuming the reference 
to be entirely to London bills. But in Dublin bills began 
to be dated considerably earlier in the century. It seems 
necessary also to point out that there is extant, in the 
collection of Mr. J. Eliot Hodgson, a bill of a Fencing- 
Match at the Red Bull Theatre bearing date, "Whitson 

1 Unwary writers still continue to fall into the trap. See The Keynote for 10 July, 
1 886, p. 4, H. Barton Baker's article, "England's National Theatre," where the bill 
is given as an item of historical evidence. 

2 Notes and Queries, First Series, x. 99. 

7 6 The Origin of the Theatre Programme 

Munday, 30 May, 1664." 1 This is surmounted by a large 
woodcut of the Royal Arms, and is printed on a sheet of 
coarse paper measuring 5f inches by 7 J inches. In 1664 
the old Red Bull was no longer in use as an ordinary 
playhouse, having been superseded by the picture-stage 
theatres, but it is difficult to understand why fencing bills 
should have been dated and playbills not. 

(2) This of itself would not suffice to condemn the bill, 
although as evidence it is contributory. In the Reeves 
collection in the Royal Irish Academy one finds a genuine 
Dublin bill of 1798 presenting a similar blunder. 

(3) The argument here has been considerably strength- 
ened by Lowe 2 , who points out that Pepys had been at the 
King's House on 22 April, obviously the old theatre in Vere 
Street, for he makes no comment on the house while he 
elaborately describes it (the new theatre) on 8 May. 

(4) In case it should be argued that Lacy had been substi- 
tuted for Clun after the first performance at the new theatre, 
it may be pointed out that The Humorous Lieutenanthzdbeen 
previously acted at Vere Street by the King's company on 
1 March, 166 1-2, and, possibly, approximate dates. 3 

Mr. Percy Fitzgerald has also pointed out that the date 
of the bill fell in Lent, a period most inopportune for the 
opening of a new theatre. 4 My own contribution to the 
ammunition of the insurgents must consist of the ugly fact 
that the new Theatre Royal of 1663, although spoken of 
for convenience sake by latter-day historians as the first 
Drury Lane theatre, was never known as such during the 
decade of its existence. And for very good reason: it stood 
in Bridges Street and Russell Street. One finds it called 
alternatively the Theatre Royal in Covent Garden, from 
the parish, and, mostly in legal documents, the Theatre 
Royal in Bridges Street. The term "Drury Lane" as applied 
to a theatre dates from about 1690. In 1682 we find the 

1 Reproduced in Rariora, Vol. iii. p. 53. 

2 Thomas Bcttcrton, pp. 100-1. 

3 Sir Henry Herbert's list, as cited by Malone, Shakespeare (Dublin, 1794), ii. 223. 

4 Gent's Magazine, June, 1900, p. 532, article on "The Playbill : Its Growth and 

The Origin of the Theatre Programme 77 

second Theatre Royal described in a legal document as "in 
or neare Covent Garden commonly called the King's Play- 
house." 1 

The truth is that the clever forger of the bill over- 
reached himself in taking most of his details from Downes' 
Roscius Anglicanus. As it happened, Downes obtained his 
information about the opening of the new Theatre Royal 
at second hand and blundered badly in reproducing it. He 
begins by saying, " The Company being thus Compleat, they 
opened the New Theatre in Drury Lane, on Thursday in 
Easter Week, being the 8th Day of April, 1663 with the 
Humorous Lieutenant"; and he then proceeds to detail 
the cast, putting Clun's name opposite the part of the 
Lieutenant. But as he prints the names of Seleucus and 
Celia correctly one can only account for the discrepancy 
in the forged bill by surmizing that the variants were 
purposely introduced by the forger to disarm suspicion. 
Downes blundered sadly in his dating, because 8 April, 
1 663, did not fall in Easter week and was not a Thursday. 
If we look for a probable Thursday we shall find it on 
7 May, the day before Pepys paid his first visit to the new 

Collier, in reproducing the bill in 1 83 1, stated that it was 
extant, and had been, he believed, "sold among the books 
of the late Mr Bindley." 2 Also that "it was subsequently 
separately reprinted." It is a curious fact that from that 
day to this nobody has ever seen the supposed original 
or the separate reprints. Collier has been hinted at as the 
forger, which seems not unlikely, and that, too, despite the 
forgotten circumstance that the bill had been published 
eleven years before the appearance of his Annals in a mis- 
cellaneous collection of theatrical ana, issued by Simpkin and 
Marshall, called The Actor s Budget. It might very well have 
been contributed by him, as in 1 8 20 he was already a diligent 
scholar and had just published his PoeticalJDecameron. Might 
it not have been his first essay in the art of forgery ? 

1 Percy Fitzgerald, Nezv History of the English Stage, i. 154. 

2 James Bindley (1 737-1 818), for whom see the Diet. Nat. Biog. 

7 8 The Origin of the Theatre Programme 

While the existence of a playbill, with cast, before the 
dawn of the eighteenth century must be strenuously denied, 
proof of the provision of an occasional programme more or 
less approximating in nature to Vennar's old broadsheet 
can readily be educed. In the Malone collection (Bodleian 
Library) is an eighteen page pamphletin Frenchand English, 
issued by Robert Crofts, of Chancery Lane, in 1661, and 
bearing title, "The Description of the Great Machines, of 
the Descent of Orpheus into Hell, Presented by the French 
Commedians at the Cockpit in Drury-lane." It is difficult to 
arrive at any other conclusion than that this was printed to 
be sold in or about the theatre. l At a slightly later period we 
find handbills occasionally being distributed in the theatre. 
So far as this practice was concerned, Dryden seems to 
have been the innovator. When The Indian Emperor was 
produced at the Theatre Royal circa March, 1665, a bill 
had been distributed to the audience, headed, "Connexion 
of the Indian Emperor to the Indian Queen," and explaining 
that the new piece was the sequel to Sir Robert Howard's 
play. Although The Rehearsal was not produced until 
December, 1 67 1, it is generally understood that Mr. Bayes' 
reference to his having printed "above a hundred sheets 
of paper to insinuate the plot into the boxes" is a sly dig 
at Dryden's innovation. In this connexion one must bear 
in mind that The Rehearsal was on the verge of production 
in 1 66$, when the plague caused the closing of the theatres. 
It might be argued, of course, that the satire was not very 
pat in 1 67 1, but in the meantime the practice had been 
occasionally repeated. One curious variant is to be noted. 
If we turn to the invaluable Pepys, we shall find that on 
19 October, 1667, the audience at the Duke's Theatre 
yawned over the reading of a long and tedious letter in 
Lord Orrery's brand new tragedy, The Black Prince. Four 
days later, when Pepys again saw the play, the letter had 
been cut out, but as it seems to have been necessary to an 
understanding of the plot, the noble author got out of the 

1 For date and details of the production, see The Elizabethan Playhouse and other 
Studies (First Series), p. 139. 

The Origin of the Theatre Programme 79 

difficulty by printing it as a broadside and distributing it 
to the house ! This was indeed a heroic remedy. 

On 10 February, 1668-9, we find Mrs. Evelyn, the 
diarist's wife, writing to her friend Mr. Terryll : 

The censure of our plays comes to me at second hand. There 
has not been any new lately revived and reformed, as Cataline, 
well set out with clothes and scenes ; Horace, with a farce and 
dances between every act composed by Lacy, and played by him 
and Nell, which takes ; one of my Lord of Newcastle's for which 
printed apologies are scattered in the assembly by Briden's 
[PDryden's] order, either for himself who had some hand in it, 
or for the author most; I think both had right to them. 1 

The play last referred to was undoubtedly The Heiress, 
produced at the Theatre Royal on 30 January previously, 
and attributed by Pepys to the Duke of Newcastle. As 
Kynaston was beaten by hired hooligans for his mimicry of 
Sir Charles Sedley in this piece, it is probable the "printed 
apologies" repudiated the insinuation of personal satire on 
the part of the authors. 

About this period, or possibly a little earlier (one cannot 
say exactly when the practice began), it became customary 
to issue the prologues and epilogues of new plays, as 
well as addresses of this kind written for special occasions, 
as broadsides for sale in the street. 2 The persistence of 
this practice, which lasted to the middle of the eighteenth 
century, and quickly spread to Ireland, might possibly 
have suggested the eventual development of the playbill 
into a programme. This would account for the fact that 
programmes were at first sold outside the theatres, a 
custom long maintained — long, indeed, after they began 
to be vended inside. 

Not much can be gleaned as to the methods of issuing 
playbills in the latter half of the seventeenth century, but 
there is at least a sufficiency of evidence to show that no 
list of characters was as yet provided. In Chamberlayne's 
tragi-comedy, Wits Led by the Nose, or a Poet's Revenge, as 

1 Evelyn's Diary (edited by Wm. Bray, 1852), iv. p. 14. 

2 A broadside of the epilogue to Mitbridates, as spoken at the Theatre Royal, circa 
October, 1681, is preserved in the British Museum (press-mark "644-1-20-9"). 

80 The Origin of the Theatre Programme 

acted at the Theatre Royal in 1677, the Prologue-speaker 
comes on before the curtain in the guise of a country 
gentleman and proceeds to read a playbill attached to the 
proscenium entering door, as if posted in the street. He sees 
there the name of the play, and notes that it was "never 
acted before ". l Early in 1672 a troupe of French players, 
acting somewhere in London, attracted some attention by 
using red posters, and of a size somewhat larger than usual. 
From Dryden's reference 2 to this circumstance it is plain 
that coloured bills were then a novelty in England. The 
innovation does not seem to have borne immediate fruit. 
Of recent years some valuable evidence has come to 
light showing that the playbill of the later seventeenth 
century still maintained its pristine brevity. According to 
the Historical Manuscripts Commission Report on the Verney 
Papers, 3 there are preserved at Claydon House, Co. Bucks, 
three old undated playbills all, apparently, belonging to 
this period. One sees no reason why these bills (not being 
actual programmes) should have been so preserved unless, 
as seems highly probable, it was customary to deliver day- 
bills at the houses of distinguished patrons of the play. If 
the Report is to be credited 4 the three bills are only about 
6 inches by 3 : surely too small a size for use as posters. 
And yet it is difficult to believe that two kinds of day- 
bills were issued at the period. 5 None of the three bills 
now being available, it is unfortunate that only one of them 
was reproduced in the Historical Manuscripts Commission 

1 For other evidence testifying to the posting of bills in Restoration times, see 
The Wild Gallant (1669), ii. 1, where Failer's name is said to have been on more posts 
than playbills were; also The Rehearsal (1671), end of last act. 

2 Cf. The Elizabethan Playhouse and other Studies (First Series), p. 142. 

3 Report vii, p. 509. 

4 About eight years ago I made formal application for permission to inspect and 
photograph these bills, but was informed by Lady Verney in a courteous reply that 
they had unaccountably disappeared. 

5 In the third decade of the eighteenth century we find large and small bills being 
issued in connexion, with the one performance, the large as posters, the small as pro- 
grammes. See the article on "The Present State of the Theatrical War in the British 
Dominions," quoted in The London Magazine, March, 1734, p. 105, wherein it is 
whimsically said of "Duke Giffard", the manager of Goodman's Fields, that "he has 
likewise exerted himself in an extraordinary manner, as appears by his printed manifesto, 
which is duly posted up on the Gates, and other noted places of this Metropolis, being 
at least four feet in length." 

The Origin of the Theatre Programme 81 

Report. Although undated, it is fairly certain that two at 
least belong to the period of 1692-3. One deals with The 
Indian Emperor, another with Henry II, King of England, 
and a third with All for Love and Theodosius. l A clue to the 
dating of the bills is afforded by the fact that Bancroft and 
Mountford's tragedy of Henry II, King of England was first 
brought out at Drury Lane on 9 November, 1692, and 
published a few weeks later. The Indian Emperor had 
been revived at the same house, with new music by Henry 
Purcell, late in the December previous. 2 The bill for this 
play, as reproduced in the Historical Manuscripts Commission 
Report, runs as follows : 

At the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane this present Wednesday, 
being the last day of November will be presented 

a Play called 

The Indian Emperor, or 

The Conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards. 

No money to be return'd after the Curtain is drawn. 

By Their Majesties servants. 

Vivant Rex et Rcgina. 

As The Indian Emperor 'was originally produced in 1665, 
and frequently revived, it is vital to note that the "Vivant 
Rex et Regina" at the end of the bill limits it to the reign 
of William and Mary, or between 1689 and 1694. The only 
year within that period in which 30 November fell on a 
Wednesday was 1692, the probable date of the bill. 

That bills in 1695 na ^ not y et been furnished with casts 
is shown by a story told of the theatrical rivalries of that 
year by Colley Cibber in his Apology. On a certain Monday 
morning the Drury Lane company resolved suddenly to 
change their bill for the evening, and, for strategical pur- 
poses, to play The Old Bachelor, a popular comedy at the 
opposition theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields. 

1 It is somewhat remarkable to find two tragedies being played on the one night. 
But Malone writes, "I have seen a playbill printed in the year 1697, which expressed 
only the titles of the two pieces that were to be exhibited, and the time when they 
were to be represented." Malone's Shakespeare (Dublin, 1794), ii. p. 114 note. 

2 Cf. Quart. Mag. International Musical Society, Year v, Pt. IV, 1904, p. 528, 
W. Barclay Squire's article, " Purcell's Dramatic Music." 


82 The Origin of the Theatre Programme 

This motion was agreed to, nemine contradicente; but upon inquiry 
it was found that there were not two persons among them who 
had ever acted in that play. But that objection, it seems (though 
all the parts were to be studied in six hours) was soon got over; 
Powell had an equivalent in petto that would balance any deficiency 
on that score, which was, that he would play the Old Bachelor 
himself, and mimic Betterton throughout the whole part. This 
happy thought was approved with delight and applause, as what- 
ever can be supposed to ridicule merit generally gives joy to those 
that want it. Accordingly the bills were changed, and at the bottom 
inserted " The part of the Old Bachelor to be performed in imita- 
tion of the original." Printed books of the play were sent for in 
haste, and every actor had one, to pick out of it the part he had chosen. 
Thus, while they were each of them chewing the morsel they 
had most mind to, some one, happening to cast his eye over the 
dramatis personae, found that the main matter was still forgot, that 
nobody had yet been thought of for the part of alderman Fondle- 
wife. Here they were all aground again ; nor was it to be conceived 
who could make the least tolerable shift with it. This character 
had been so admirably acted by Dogget, that though it is only seen 
in the fourth act, it may be no dispraise to the play to say it 
probably owed the greatest part of its success to his performance. 
But as the case was now desperate, any resource was better than 
none. Somebody must swallow the bitter pill, or the play must 
die. 1 

At length it was agreed that Cibber should be cast for 
Fondlewife, and between eleven and twelve that morning 
the part was put into his hands. Since the oversight regard- 
ing the character was not observed until after the bills were 
printed, it is evident that bills then did not present any 
details of the cast. But their brevity was an advantage, 
as it admitted of their being readily changed. In this 
connexion it is worthy of note that another four years 
were to elapse before the name of the author of the play 
was to be regularly announced. Curiously enough, this 
change was mainly due to Jeremy Collier's attack on the 
profanity and indecency of the stage. When The Double 
Dealer came to be revived on 4 March, 1699, some altera- 
tions had to be made in deference to the prevailing tone of 

1 Cibber's Apology (edit. 1826), Chap. vi. pp. 119-20. 

The Origin of the Theatre Programme 83 

thought, and the play was accordingly announced as "written 
by Mr Congreve; with several expressions omitted." This 
marks the hour of innovation but not the period of regular 
usage. Lowe, in his monograph on Thomas Betterton^ 1 cites 
a bill for 27 February, 1 700, which goes to show that at the 
dawn of the new century the old terseness and sobriety still 
ruled, if soon to be broken in upon : 

w. R. 

At the Desire of several Persons of Quality. 

At the 


in Little Lincoln's-Inn Fields, this present Tuesday being the 

27th of February, will be presented, 

a Tragedy call'd 


[The Moorish] Entry perform'd by 

[The Littl]e Boy. 

Vivat Rex. 2 

From the time when Jeremy Collier had put a spoke into 
the Thespian cart, those "dressed in a little brief authority" 
had been unceasing in their harassments of the players. On 
Tuesday, 2 1 May, 1700, Luttrell 3 records : 

The Grand Jury of this Citty last week presented to the court 
at the old Baily, that for any person to goe to play houses was a 
publick nusance : and that the putting up bills in and about this 
citty for playes was an encouragement to vice and prophanesse; 
and prayed that none be suffered for the future. 

Within the next two or three weeks, the Mayor and 
Aldermen, acting on this instruction, issued an order 
forbidding the playhouse bills to be affixed in any part 

p. 14. 


2 The bill as cited by Lowe is slightly defective, and the bracketed portions have 
been added by me from a contemporary newspaper advertisement. Note that from 1698 
onwards it had been customary to mention the French dancers engaged, at the bottom 
of the Lincoln's Inn Fields bills. Cf. The Elizabethan Playhouse and other Studies (First 
Series), p. 152, under "Wright". 

3 A Brief Relation of State Affairs, &c. (1857), iv. 647. 

84 The Origin of the Theatre Programme 

of the city or liberties thereof. l Although this embargo 
continued to operate for some time, it did not wholly 
prevent the printing of playbills, which continued to be 
exposed in coffee houses and taverns, and probably to be 
delivered to leading patrons of the play. In The London 
Post for Friday, 28 June, to Monday, 1 July, 1700, we 
find a paragraph setting forth that : 

It being put on the Playhouse bills 2 on Friday last, that each 
company were to act that day, and the whole profits to go to'ards 
the Redemption of the English now in Slavery at Machanisso in 
Barbary, we are credibly informed that pursuant thereunto, the 
Treasurers of the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane did on Saturday 
last pay into the hands of the Churchwardens of St. Martin's the 
sum of 20I. out of the receipts of the play acted by that company 
towards the Relief of those our natives from slavery, which good 
example 'tis hoped may move others to be speedy and generous 
in the Charity for the same purpose. What the other Company 
gave I do not hear. 

Three years later the interdict against playbill-posting 
was still in force, although attempts were being made to 
evade it. In 1703, when a proposal was on foot to refit 
the disused theatre in Dorset Gardens, the Grand Jury of 
Middlesex made a presentment for 

The having some effectual course taken, if possible, to prevent 
the youth of this city from resorting to the playhouses, which we 
rather mention because the playhouse bills are again posted up 
throughout the city, in contempt of a former presentment and a 
positive order of the Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen to the 
contrary, dated June, 1700 ; as also because we are informed that 
a playhouse within the liberties of this city, which has been of late 
disused and neglected, is at this time refitting in order to be used 
as formerly. We do not presume to prescribe to this honourable 
court, but we cannot question but that, if they shall think fit 

1 The Post Man, of 25 June, 1700, as cited in The Gent's Magazine, July, 18 14, 
p. 9. The prohibition is referred to in the epilogue to Mrs. Centlivre's tragedy, The 
Perjured Husband ; or the Adventures of Venice, as delivered shortly afterwards at Drury 

2 The regular phraseology of the period. So Pope : — 

" Shakspeare, whom you and every playhouse bill 
Style the divine, the matchless, what you will — ." 

The Origin of the Theatre Programme 85 

humbly to address Her Majesty in this case, she will be graciously 
pleased to prevent it. 1 

One result of the sustained prohibition against bill- 
posting was that brief theatrical advertisements began to 
appear in the newspapers with greater frequency. During 
the last two or three years of the old century occasional puffs 
preliminary and advertisements of special performances had 
been inserted in The Post Boy and The Post Man, but these 
were of a naive, wholly primitive order. For example, in 
The Post Boy, of 8 July, 1 700, we read : 

This Day at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane will be pre- 
sented a play called Sophonisba or Hannibal's Overthrow, not 
performed by the Publick Actors, but by all young gentlemen and 
ladies for their own Diversion. The Benefit for the Young People 
of the House. 

Since the prohibition of bill-posting lasted at least a couple 
of years, it maybe that the players in drafting their privately 
distributed handbills sought to gain by floridity what they 
had lost by the old embargo. This would account for the 
charge levelled against them in 1 704, of having entered 
into a confederacy to ruin the mummers of Bartlemy Fair 
" by outdoing them in their bombastick bills, and ridiculous 
representing their plays." Some evidence, however, exists 
to show that the outbreak of verbiage was but transient, 
and that to it cannot be ascribed the introduction of the pro- 
gramme, or bill with cast. Preserved in the British Museum, 
in Smith's voluminous compilation for a History of the 
English Stage, 2 is a small playbill of the Queen's Theatre, 
Haymarket, for 6 November, 1705. Brief announcement 
is made of The Confederacy, but no cast is given. 

Within the succeeding six or seven years the theatre pro- 
gramme sprang into existence. A statement of Malone's 

1 Quoted from Percy Fitzgerald's Neiv History of the English Stage, i. 315, where, 
however, no reference is cited and the date only given obliquely. But the prohibition 
certainly lasted some time, as Farquhar, in his Discourse Upon Comedy, published in 
Love and Business (1702), replying to the parrot-cry of the degeneracy of the times, 
says, "true downright sense was never more universal than at this very day; . . . 
'tis neither abdicated the court with the late Reigns, nor expell'd the City with the 
Play-house bills." 

2 Press-mark " 1 1826 r ", Vol. iv, near middle (no pagination). This is the oldest 
playbill in the British Museum. 

86 The Origin of the Theatre Programme 

enables us to approximate the period. " Notices of plays ", 
he writes, cc to be performed on a future day, similar to those 
now daily published, first appeared in the original edition 
of the Spectator in 1 7 1 1 ." 1 Theatrical advertisements in the 
newspapers at the time this was written generally included 
a full cast of the performance. Hence the reference. The 
evidence presented by the appended advertisements from 
the original edition of The Spectator seems to imply that the 
programme was gradually arrived at, first by giving on the 
bills the names of the principal players, and afterwards by 
specifying what particular parts they were to play. One 
assumes that most of these advertisements were fairly full 
reproductions of the bills of the time. Two examples may 
be cited in support of this contention. The first is from The 
Spectator \ of 1 1 August, 171 1, No. 141 : — 2 

By her Majesty's Company of Comedians. 

At the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane, on Tuesday next, being 
the 14th Day of August, will be presented, A comedy call'd The 
Lancashire Witches. Written by the Ingenious Mr Shadwell, 
late Poet Laureat. Carefully Revis'd. With all the Original 
Decorations of Scenes, Witche's Songs and Dances, proper to the 
Dramma. The Principal Parts to be perform'd by Mr Mills, Mr 
Booth, Mr Johnson, Mr Bullock, Sen, Mr Norris, Mr Pack, Mr 
Bullock, Jun:, Mrs Elrington, Mrs Powel, Mrs Bradshaw, Mrs 
Cox. And the Witches by Mr Buckhead, Mr Ryan, Mrs Mills, 
and Mrs Willis. It being the last time of acting it this season. 

The second, showing progression towards a full cast, is 
cited from The Spectator \ of 5 May, 1712, No. 370 : — 

For the Benefit of Mr Penkethman. At the Desire of Several 
Ladies of Quality. By Her Majesty's Company of Comedians. 
At the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane, this present Monday being 
the 5th of May, will be presented a Comedy called Love makes 
a Man, or The Fop's Fortune. The Part of Don Lewis, alias 
Don Choleric Snap Shorto de Testy, by Mr Penkethman; Carlos, 
Mr Wilks; Clodio, alias Don Dismallo Thick-Scullo de Half 
Witto, Mr Cibber; and all the other Parts to the best advantage. 
With a new Epilogue, Spoken by Mr Penkethman, riding on an 

1 Malone's Shakespeare (Dublin, 1794), ii. 114. 

2 Cited from Henry Morley's recension as issued by Routledge, without date. 

The Origin of the Theatre Programme 87 

Ass. By her Majesty's Command no Persons are to be admitted 
behind the Scenes, And To-Morrow, being Tuesday, will be pre- 
sented, A Comedy call'd The Constant Couple, or A Trip to the 
Jubilee. For the Benefit of Mrs Bickncll. 

From this to a bill with a full cast of characters (a bill 
answering indifferently as placard or programme) was but 
a step, and it was very quickly taken. Once the programme 
was reached, very little alteration or extension of its charac- 
teristics took place for over a century. It told the spectator 
what pieces were to be played and who were the players ; 
and it also comprised a list of whatever dances, songs and 
addresses were to be given between the acts or between the 
pieces. There it stopped. The whole was in bold type, 
suitable for reading in a dimly lit theatre, and unburdened 
with advertisements. It was not until the latter half of the 
nineteenth century that the practice of giving a synopsis 
of the scenery and details of the inter-act music came into 
vogue. But even at an early period its defectiveness as a 
guide became felt, and had to be repaired in other ways. 
Thus when Colley Cibber's new musical masque of Venus 
and Adonis was produced at Drury Lane, on 1 2 March, 1 7 1 4, 
it was announced that "A Printed book will be given to each 
person who pay to the Pit or Boxes." The non-provision 
of a programme of the inter-act music led to the prolonga- 
tion of an old Elizabethan custom, the calling for tunes 
on the part of the audience, a demand long conceded, and 
occasionally the source of riot and disorder through the 
calling for party tunes. 

Bills in the old days were drafted by the prompter, and 
the task was one of considerable difficulty and delicacy. In 
discussing the period of 17 14, Chetwood, who had been 
twenty years prompter at Drury Lane, Writes : 

Distinguished Characters in Bills were not in Fashion, at the 
Time these Plays were performed ; they were printed in Order 
according to the Drama as they stood, not regarding the Merit of 
the Actor. As for Example, in Macbeth, Duncan King of Scotland 
appear'd first on the Bill, tho' acted by an insignificant Person ; 
and so every other Actor appear'd according to his Dramatic 

88 The Origin of the Theatre Programme 

Dignity, all of the same-siz'd Letter. But latterly, I can assure 
my Readers, I have found it a difficult Task to please some Ladies, 
as well as Gentlemen, because I could not find Letters large enough 
to please them ; and some were so very fond of Elbow-room, that 
they would have shoved everybody out but themselves, as if one 
Person was to do all, and have the Merit of all, like Generals of 
an Army ; such a Victory was gained by such a King, and such a 
Prince, while the other Officers and Soldiers were forgot. 1 

Very different was the attitude of the French comedians. 
In 1789 (when the principle of the programme had not yet 
come into vogue in Paris) we find them petitioning monsieur 
le maire not to permit their names to be put on the affiche, an 
innovation deemed by them very contrary to their interests. 
They were, however, but kicking against the pricks, and in 
less than two years the principle had been generally adopted. 2 

In 1788, when John Kemble was appointed manager of 
Drury Lane, he sought to abolish all playbill distinctions, 
either in matter of type or in priority of place. But his praise- 
worthy example was not followed, and at Covent Garden 
at the end of the century the players' names were printed 
according to their rank in the theatre, and in new pieces, 
according to salary. 3 At a later period Kean and Macready 
were avid for big type, and ever ready to fight " for an hour 
by Shrewsbury clock " for the maintenance of the star's 
prerogative. The play was no longer the thing. No player, 
save Dowton, rose superior to his surroundings. " I am 
sorry you have done this," he wrote to Elliston, when his 
name had been announced in a riot of capitals. " You know 
well what I mean. This cursed quackery. These big letters. 
There is a want of respectability about it, or rather a 
notoriety, which gives one the reeling of an absconded 
felon, against whom a hue and cry is made public." 4 

Although the eighteenth-century French player, as we 
have seen, was by no means amorous of playbill notoriety, 
it is none the less true that "display" advertisements were 

1 W. R. Chetwood, A General History of the Stage (London, 1749), p. 59. 

2 V. Fournel, Curiositcs The'atrales, p. 127. 

3 Cf. The Monthly Mirror (1799), Vol. vii. p. 178 note a . 

4 Dutton Cook, A Book of the Play (1881), p. 57. 

For the Benefit of Mr.LEVERID < 
Theatre Royal in C 

is urcfcr.t Wednfifdaj, b&n« the 

The City Wives Confederacy. 

(7'V; f i *7 t&t **tt Sir I » h H V A NllCD 

The Part of dan s a to be perriorm'd 


Gripe bv Mr D U N S T A L L, 

■ Monty-trap by Mr. ARTHUR, 

D/V* by : DYE R, 

Bra/s bv Ms M A G K L I N, 

The Part of W Mrs. MACK LIN, 

Arammta by L R 1 N G TON, 

Cor inn a by !t R I S O N, 

And the Part of FL1PTANTA to be performed 

By Mrs, V I N C E N T, 

#7/& Etertalnments of Singing and Dancing, 

End ofc Adl. rf Cafitata, ea/M 77w Lover's Le (Jon, 

End of Aft 4. *« Anacron tic 'by Mr. L E V K ! ID G E, 

End of A« 1 1 L '-' *#*»* ' *** 

/VK Baildofl, <?- 

End i- >\& '■ U 

'- 9. d 

Bv r, -A 




(Covent Garden, 1745). [To face p. 88. 

The Origin of the Theatre Programme 89 

first introduced into England from France. In an undated 
satirical paraphrase of Horace's Ars Po erica, entitled An Essay 
on Theatres, written, from internal evidence, about the year 
1740, and first published in The Harleian Miscellany 1 , one 
finds the following curious passage : — 

So have I seen large-letter'd bills proclaim 

(In red lines 2 France was mark'd, in black the name) 

The celebrated H — n 3 was to dance, 

His first performance since arriv'd from France. 

The house was crowded ; the third act was done ; 

A chorus-figur'd entry brought him on. 

He came ; he conjur'd once ; & off he run — 

The pomp so solemn, ended in a joke 

For ah, the strings that ty'd his breeches broke. 

The point is not well assured, but it would seem that in 
the beginning the vending of programmes was no concern 
of the theatrical managers but simply a printer's perquisite, 
given to him as a partial set-off against his bill for printing 
and delivering a certain number of the bills for use as posters. 4 
One notes, by the way, that at Covent Garden, in 1757, 
the daily expense for the printing of bills was 2js. y and the 
daily payments to "bill-setters", 1 u. 6d.° This impression 
regarding the initial arrangement is gained from the practice 
then established of selling bills outside the theatres before 
the opening of the doors as well as inside afterwards. The 
vendors were the orange-women, and, unless we can assume 
that they were regularly employed by the theatre managers, 
it must be concluded that the bills were delivered to them 
by the printer at a discount, much as papers are sold to-day 
to newsboys. That the orange-girl was a playhouse institu- 

1 Vol. v. p. 580. 

2 Rubricated lines were common in French bills as early as 1671. See V. Fournel, 
op. cit. p. 127. 

3 Quaere, M. Hardouin, maitre a darner, for whom see Emile Dacier, Mademoiselle 
Salle, p. 78. 

4 Even within living memory a somewhat similar arrangement was effected in 
connexion with a number of fashionable London theatres. In or about 1876 the right 
of printing and vending programmes was granted for a consideration to Eugene Rimmel, 
the perfumer, who utilized them as an advertising medium, and scented them heavily. 

5 Account Books of the T. R., Covent Garden, in Egerton MSS., 2267-72. 

90 The Origin of the Theatre Programme 

tion from Restoration days is shown by the well-grounded 
tradition concerning Nell Gwyn : 

But first the basket her fair arm did suit, 

Laden with pippins and Hesperian fruit ; 

This first step raised, to the wondering pit she sold 

The lovely fruit smiling with streaks of gold. 

Inthe curious scene of the playhouse in Shadwell's comedy, 
A True Widow, as produced at Dorset Gardens in 1678, we 
see the audience trooping in and hear the orange-woman cry, 
" Oranges ! will you have any oranges." She has, however, 
no bill of the play to sell, and when the First Bully enters, 
he proceeds to ask her, "what play do they play?" 

Search as one will, one can nowhere discover that the 
managers paid the orange-women a wage and took the 
profits of their sales. Even proof that they were the original 
vendors of bills is lacking unless we can argue a posteriori 
and fall back once more on the longevity of theatrical custom. 
Hogarth shows us the orange-women plying their trade in 
the pit in his sketch of The Laughing Audience, but he affords 
us no glimpse of their sheaf of bills. The earliest reference 
to the vending of programmes is associated with February, 
1 748, when Foote gave his entertainment at Covent Garden 
and imitated Peg Wofrington, in the suppositious role of 
"an Orange Woman to the Playhouse," calling out "Would 
you have some oranges, — have some orange chips, ladies 
and gentlemen, — would you have some nonpariels, — would 
you have a bill of the play ? " ! This, of course, only testifies 
to the custom within doors, but, three-quarters of a century 
later, we find Charles Lamb making sympathetic revealment 
of the custom without. Writing of Old Drury in 1782 in 
"My First Play", he says : 

In those days were pit orders, — Beshrew the uncomfortable 
manager who abolished them — with one of these we went. I 
remember the waiting at the door — not that which is left — but 
between that and an inner door in shelter. O when shall I be 
such an expectant again ! — with the cry of nonpareils, an indispens- 
able playhouse accompaniment in those days. As near as I can 

1 Tate Wilkinson, Memoirs of bis own Life (Dublin, 1 791), i. p. 22. 

The Origin of the Theatre Programme 91 

recollect, the fashionable pronunciation of the theatrical fruiteresses 
then was, 'Chase some oranges, chase some numparls, chase a bill 
of the play; — chase pro chuse. But when we got in, and I beheld 
the green curtain that veiled a heaven to my imagination, which 
was soon to be disclosed — the breathless anticipations I endured ! 

One old woman sold bills outside Sadlers Wells for fifty- 
five years. 1 As a matter of fact, the practice lasted till well 
within living memory ; and many old London playgoers 
must still recall how, when driving to the theatre thirty odd 
years ago, their vehicles were vigorously pursued, as they 
neared their destination, by rival playbill vendors. A little 
before that, about the year 1 870, managers had discounten- 
anced this selling outside, through finding that bills were 
being falsified. But the custom had wonderful vitality, and 
recurred for a brief period as a sort of epilogue to its history. 

Confused from its inception with the daybill, the pro- 
gramme had no separate identity, or at least none of any 
permanence, until it came to be looked upon as " an ex- 
cellent medium for advertising ". The transition, however, 
was not abrupt. In the London theatres of forty years ago, 
two kinds of programmes were simultaneously provided. 
In the cheaper parts of the house a replica of the ordinary 
folio daybill was on sale, thin in texture, and pungent to 
the nostrils with its heavy burden of undried printer's ink. 
This was the last relic of the old "bill of the play". No 
one could apply the term to the delicately-perfumed pro- 
gramme of octavo size supplied at the same time to the 
occupants of the boxes. This was an invidious distinction 
to be set up in so democratic an institution as the playhouse. 
But, perhaps, on the whole, the advantage was with the man 
in the pit. He got what he paid for and nothing more. The 
kid-gloved lounger in the boxes, seeking distraction from 
actuality, had all its grey grimness thrust upon him by the 
matter-of-fact advertisements. The era of rank commer- 
cialism — a commercialism which blighted as it progressed 
— had dawned in the theatre. 

1 For her portrait "in character", see The New Tork Mirror for 30 March, 1889, 
W. Marston's article on "The Oldest Theatre." 

Early Systems of Admission 

Early Systems of Admission 

Much of what was distinctive about Elizabethan play- 
going arose from the circumstance that the builders of the 
first London theatres, instead of charging a fixed annual 
rental for the use of their houses, received payment by 
results. The system of taking a proportion of the receipts 
was the fairest possible. It made all interests identical ; 
the proprietors only prospered when the players prospered. 
No arrears of rent accrued during those frequent visitations 
of plague when the theatres had to be closed. Curiously 
enough, this proportional division of the receipts between 
the actors and the proprietors conditioned some of the 
architectural peculiarities of the early theatre. Separate 
entrances were not provided for every section of the house 
as now. Even in the largest theatres there were only two 
doors, the one leading into the auditorium proper, and the 
other into the tiring-house at the back of the stage. * It was 
by the latter that the gallant, who came "to publish a hand- 
some man and a new suit," by occupying a stool on the 
rush-strewn boards, made his entry. The first Globe theatre 
on the Bankside was no better provided. It was destroyed by 
fire on 29 June, 16 13, and nine days later John Chamberlain 
wrote to a friend in the country, describing the occurrence. 
According to him the misadventure " fell out by a peal of 
chambers (that I know not on what occasion were to be used 
in the play), the tampin or stopple of one of them lighting 
in the thatch that covered the house, burn'd it down to 
the ground in less than two hours, with a dwelling house 
adjoining, and it was a great marvaile and fair grace of God, 
that the people had so little harm, having but two narrow 
doors to get out." 2 

1 Cf. J. D. Wilson, Life in Shakespeare s England, p. 92, contemporary record of a 
riot in Moore-fields, in 1584. Mention is made of people standing near "Theater 
door", as if only one door. See also T. F. Ordish's Early London Theatres, p. 227, for 
Taylor's lines dealing with the Hope in 1614, "Some runne to the door to get againe 
their coyne." 2 Winwood's Memorials, iii. 469. 

96 Early Systems of Admission 

Unless the Elizabethan playgoer were content to remain 
standing throughout the performance in the seat-less pit, 
jostled by stinkards and pickpockets, it was impossible for 
him on going to the public theatre to settle finally for his 
admission at the door. In 1596 we find Lambard writing 
in his Perambulation of Kent, " those who go to Paris Garden, 
the Bell-Savage, or Theater, to behold bear-baiting, in- 
terludes or fence-play, must not account of any pleasant 
spectacle, unless first they pay one penny at the gate, another 
at the entry of the Scaffold, and a third for quiet standing." 
As each theatre was a law unto itself in the matter of prices 
of admission, and as the tariff fluctuated at different periods, 
no hard and fast deduction can be made from this passage ; 
but, broadly speaking, the curious system of iterated pay- 
ment 1 held good until the Restoration. 

The question naturally arises, how chanced it that the 
playgoer in Shakespeare's day was unable to pay for his box 
or gallery seat at the door and have done with the matter ? 
To arrive at the answer one has to delve into the documents 
published by Halliwell-Phillipps in his Outlines of the Life 
of Shakespeare, dealing with the dispute between the sharing 
and non-sharing actors at the Globe and Blackfriars in 
1635. Going back to a period of more than half a century 
previously, Cuthbert Burbage, in his defence, states that his 
father, James Burbage, borrowed the large sum of money 
at interest with which he built the first playhouse, known 
as "The Theater". Writes Burbage : "The players that 
lived in those first times had only the profitts arising from 
the dores, but now the players receave all the commings 
in at the dores to themselves and half the galleries from the 
housekepers." In other words, the players in 1576 and 
thereabouts shared among them the moneys taken by way 
of preliminary admission to the auditorium. The second 
payments made by the occupants of the boxes and galleries 
accrued to Burbage as rent. Sixty years later the players 

1 A somewhat similar arrangement is still pursued in some parts of Southern 
Europe. For a modern Spanish analogue, see Henry Lyonnet's Theatre en Espagne 
(1897), p. 17. 

Early Systems of Admission 97 

also received half the takings in the galleries, but out of this 
they had to pay "all expenses for hirelings, apparel, poets 1 , 
light and all other expenses of the playhouses." 2 

Let us look for a moment more closely into the system 
of collecting payment at the Bankside houses three hundred 
years ago. With the exception of the few who occupied 
stools on the rush-strewn boards or boxes at the rear of 
the stage, and who therefore went in by the tiring-house 
entrance, peer and pauper, gentle and simple, all made their 
way into the house by a common door. In the vestibule 
stood an attendant with a box into whose narrow orifice the 
playgoer, no matter of what degree, slipped his penny or 
twopence, giving preliminary admission to the pit. (The 
reader will kindly remember that money in those days had 
fully seven times its present purchasing power.) In the 
section on the "Price of admission to Theatres," in his 
History of English Dramatic Poetry, 3 Payne Collier clearly 
shows, by contemporary citation, that all payments, whether 
at the door or inside the house, were made not to the 
gatherer himself but to his box. This arrangement was 
seemingly designed with the view of preventing theft, 
and apparently did not permit of change being given. 
But pilfering was a common occurrence, and Dekker in 
dedicating his play, If it be not good, the Devil is in it 
(16 1 2), to his cronies, the Queen's players, wishes them 
"a full audience and one honest door-keeper." 

1 "Expense of poets" probably meant that the players had to pay the earnest 
money handed over to the dramatist to secure the rights of a commissioned, or partly 
written play, as well as money for the altering of old plays. In 1614, the Princess 
Elizabeth's Servants complained that Henslowe had received from them ^200 or there- 
abouts in payment of playbooks, and yet had refused to give up the copies of any of 
them (Collier, Annals, iii. 419). It would appear that the first method of remunerating 
authors was by a modest lump sum before the production, and that this developed into 
the payment of earnest money plus a benefit. Lines 16-25 °f Dekker's prologue to 
If It be not Good, the Devil is in it, apparently indicate that at the period of delivery 
(according to Fleay, c. Xmas, 1610) authors' benefits were a recent innovation. 

2 Outlines (3rd edit., 1883), p. 549. For the arrangements at the Swan, c. 1597, 
see Prof. C. W. Wallace's paper on "The Swan Theatre and the Earl of Pembroke's 
Servants," in Engliscbe Studien, Band 43, pp. 340 ff. The interpretation at p. 360 of 
the Stowe-Langley documents is, however, disputable. For the rules and monetary 
allocations at Salisbury Court in 1639, see the puzzling details in Shakespeare Society 
Publications, Vol. iv. p. 99. 

3 Edit. 1831, iii. 341. 


98 Early Systems of Admission 

Dives and Lazarus, having made common entry by the 
auditorium door and duly paid their pennies to the box, went 
along the single passage and found themselves in the pit or 
"yard". There Lazarus remained; he had no more to pay. 
But Dives desired to make his way to the boxes, or may- 
hap to the middle or upper gallery — how did he manage it? 
Scrutinize the old Dutch sketch of the interior of the Swan 
theatre, and by careful exercise of your intelligence you 
will solve the puzzle. Remark that on either side of the 
stage is a flight of steps leading from the pit to the boxes 
and inscribed "ingressus". Up these steps had to go all 
intending occupants of the boxes or galleries ; there were 
doubtless connecting staircases behind. No arrangement 
could have been clumsier. Attendants must have been 
placed at frequent intervals to keep each portion of the 
audience in its place during the performance, otherwise the 
groundlings would have been unceasing in their invasion 
of the higher regions. * One marvels that in the primitive 
theatres the utility of separate doors and stairways to each 
part did not so far suggest itself as to render the arrange- 
ment an imperative necessity. But the fact is that, beyond 
permanency of structure and increased accommodation, 
they presented little that could be called an improvement 
on the temporary playing places in the old inn-yards. To 
such an extent, indeed, did the Globe and the Swan and 
the Fortune perpetuate the elementary physical conditions 
of the inn-yard stages, one shrewdly suspects that many 
early theatrical customs — such as the hoisting of flags and 
blowing of trumpets — were mere survivals of the older 
routine. In the inn-yards payment must in some instances 
have been difficult to enforce. Doubtless a fee was exacted 
of those who entered the yard by the public gateway, but 
the better class people who occupied rooms at the back 
of the surrounding gallery were answerable to the inn- 
keeper, and not to the players. One takes leave to think 

1 Hence the reference in the second Prologue to The Netv Inn (unspoken, but 
intended for the Globe or Blackfriars in 1629), "We mean the court above the stairs 
and past the guard." 

rey JcU£ atenoy 


[To face p. 98. 

Early Systems of Admission / 99 

that their generosity was appealed to, and that the box 
was borne round the gallery during the inter-acts precisely 
in the manner that buskers send round the hat after a 
street performance. 1 The practice would survive like 
other customs of the inn-yards, and thus lead to the quaint 
system of iterated payments and interior gathering. 

judging by what dregs of the old habitude existed at 
the Restoration, it would appear that the extra charge for 
admission to the boxes and galleries was not collected until 
the termination of the first act, and that those who chose to 
go out before the gatherer came round had nothing further 
to pay. Karl Mantzius, who has probed deeply into the 
subject, 2 arrives at the conclusion that the gatherers did 
duty on the stage as supernumeraries. There may be some 
inclined to doubt this, owing to the paucity of evidence 
advanced, but the matter can be placed beyond the regions 
of conjecture. The supernumeraries and the gatherers 
were not always identical — men adapted to the one task 
were not always adapted to the other ; but that both offices 
were occasionally fulfilled by the one person is clearly 
apparent. Steevens in striving to elucidate "The Plott 
of Frederick and Basilea" (1597) was mystified to find the 
word "gatherers" placed opposite "the guard", and gave 
it as his opinion that "without assistance from the play, 
of which this is the plot, the denomination gatherers is 
perhaps inexplicable." Collier, in demonstrating that the 
puzzle could be solved without any such resource, shows 
that he himself had but an imperfect idea of the duties of the 
gatherers. He seems to have concluded that all payment 
for admission was made at the doors. "The gatherers", 
he says, "were those who gathered or collected the money, 
and who, during the performance, after all the spectators 
were arrived and when their services were no longer needed 
at the doors, were required to appear on the stage as the 
guard of Myron-hamet." 3 

1 Gathering during the performance was one of the oldest of players' customs. 
Itinerant companies performing moralities adopted it late in the fifteenth century. Cf. 
A. W. Pollard, Macro Plays, Introd. p. xii, and text, p. 17. 

2 See his History of Theatrical Art, iii. (1904), p. 109 et seq. 3 op. cit., iii. 403. 

ioo Early Systems of Admission 

The honest supernumerary could do double duty by 
taking round the box in the galleries between the acts, but 
not all gatherers were qualified as "supers ", for the reason 
that some of them were women, and women were not then 
employed in any capacity on the stage. Among the Alleyn 
Papers is a document recommending Mrs. Rose, the wife of 
a player, for the position of gatherer. l Most of the inferior 
actors were anxious (to supplement their scanty income) 
that their wives should be employed in this way. In the 
will of Henry Cundall, 2 made in 1627, one finds an item 
beginning : 

I give and bequeath unto my old servant Elizabeth Wheaton 
a mourning gown and forty shillings in money, and that place or 
priviledge which she now exerciseth and enjoyeth in the houses of 
the Blackfryers, London, and the Globe on the Bankside, for and 
during all the term of her natural life, if my estate shall so long 
continue in the premises, etc. etc. 

The " place or priviledge" referred to was doubtless that 
of gatherer 3 or doorkeeper. In the epilogue to The Scholars , 
as acted at Salisbury Court circa 1634, we read : 

The stubborne author of the trifle crime, 
That just now cheated you of two hours' time, 
Presumptuous it lik'd him, begun to grow 
Carelesse, whether it pleased you or no, 
But we who ground th' excellence of a play 
On what the women at the dores will say, 
Who judge it by the benches, and afford 
To take your money, ere his oath or word. 

These lines testify that a progressive spirit actuated 
the builders of the last of the private theatres, for they 
indicate that in Salisbury Court, which dated from 1629, 
playgoers were provided with more than one entrance to 
the auditorium proper. 

1 J. P. Collier, The Alleyn Papers (Shakespeare Society, 1843), P- S*« 

2 Cited in extenso in Malone's Shakespeare (Dublin, 1794), ii. pp. 168-72. Cundall 
was the original Cardinal in The Dutchess of Malfi. 

3 The custom of employing women as gatherers seemingly long persisted. Under 
date 25 January, 1705, Luttrell records, "Last night, Captain Walsh quarrelling with 
Mrs. Hudson, who keeps the boxes in the playhouse, she pulled out his sword and 
killed him." The only playhouse then open was Drury Lane. 

Early Systems of Admission 101 

With respect to the custom of gathering, an interesting 
side-issue calls for some discussion. It is an extraordinary 
fact that many writers who have expatiated upon the subject 
of the payment of Elizabethan dramatists have told us 
merely of the preliminary earnest money handed over and 
ignored the chief source of emolument. 1 What excuse 
they could proffer for this amazing omission, with Collier's 
section, "On the payment of Authors," confronting them, 
it would be interesting to learn. The truth is that the 
dramatist, like the chief players, was paid largely by results. 
If his play was a success he profited accordingly, for he 
received the overplus of the second or third day. 2 The 
overplus evidently meant the net receipts after the daily 
charge of 45^. for hirelings and other expenses had been 
deducted. In the case of a successful play or a popular 
author this would often amount to a considerable sum, 
seeing that admission to the first few performances of a 
new piece was invariably doubled. Of this sustainment of 
advanced prices we have indication in Jasper Mayne's lines 
to the memory of Ben Jonson : 

So when the Fox had ten times acted been, 
Each day was first, but that 'twas cheaper seen. 

Some authors, however, mere dilettanti, looked for no 
earnest money and took no benefit. Mayne himself was 
among the number, and in his prologue to The City Match, 
as spoken at the Blackfriars in 1639, wrote : 

Were it his trade, the author bid me say, 
Perchance he'd beg you would be good to th' play ; 
And I, to set him up in reputation 
Should hold a basin forth for approbation. 
But praise so gain'd, he thinks were a relief 
Able to make his comedy a brief. 

Here we have broached the side-issue already spoken of. 
How did the author collect his dues on his benefit day ? 

1 Cf. Karl Mantzius, History of Theatrical Art, Vol. iii. pp. 123 ff; Rev. £. R. 
Buckley, article, "The Elizabethan Playwright in his Workshop," in Gent's Mag., 
June, 1903 5 J. Churton Collins, Posthumous Essays, p. 24. 

2 Cf. Malone's Shakespeare (Dublin, 1 794), ii. pp. 1 1 5-6 and 267 ; also Collier, loc. cit. 

102 Early Systems of Admission 

Did he leave the matter to the tender mercies of the 
regular gatherers, putting his trust in Providence, or had 
he the right to appoint his own representatives ? As a 
passage in Every JVoman in her Humour attests, basins in 
those days were usually placed at church doors for collecting 
purposes, but we have no other record that they were ever 
employed in the playhouse auditorium. Might it not have 
been that the basin was the sign and token of the author's 
day, and that when it was held forth "for approbation", 
the pleased spectator was expected to drop in a trifle extra? 
One is prompted to speculate as to the possibility of the 
author figuring as his own gatherer. Mayne's sneer half 
implies some such arrangement. 1 Custom might have 
sanctified so humiliating a procedure, but, somehow, try 
as one will, one cannot imagine rare old Ben making per- 
sonal appeal of this order. 

Old customs die hard, the theatrical custom perhaps 
hardest of all. Notwithstanding the dismantling of the 
playhouses by the Puritans and the disruptive tendencies 
of the Civil War, despite the fact that the new type of 
Restoration theatre differed from the Elizabethan type in 
possessing separate entrances to every part of the house, 
many of the old customs still held sway. 2 

Any respectable person who made the excuse that he 
wanted to see a friend on pressing business, or who gave 
the undertaking that he would not remain longer than 
an act, could go into the house without paying. Worthy 
Master Pepys records on 7 January, 1667-8, how he 
visited both theatres, going "into the pit, to gaze up and 
down, and there did by this means, for nothing, see an act 
in 'The Schoole of Compliments at the Duke of York's house, 

1 Note, however, that in Act i. 2 of that mysterious play, Lady Alimony (reprinted 
in Hazlitt's Dodsley), Trillo wishes the poet on his day " Full audience and honest door- 

* For the allocation of the receipts at the Duke's Theatre in 1661, see Robert 
W. Lowe's Thomas Betterton, p. 75. It was agreed that admission to this house was to 
be by "ballatine, or tickets sealed for all doores and boxes," but, so far as the boxes 
were concerned, the arrangement evidently fell through. Three persons were appointed 
by the manager to receive the money for the tickets in a room adjoining the theatre, 
and these were watched by others on behalf of the actors. What system was pursued 
at the Theatre Royal a little later, we have no evidence to show. 

Early Systems of Admission 103 

and Henry the Fourth at the King's house ; but, not liking 
either of the plays, I took my coach again, and home." 

Playgoers were very tenacious of their privileges in 
those days, and maintained them at the point of the sword. 
In December, 1663, complaint was made to the Merry 
Monarch that certain roisterers were in the habit of forcing 
their way into the theatres without paying. A royal warrant 
was at once issued, proclaiming the unlawfulness of such 
acts "notwithstanding theire pretended priviledge by cus- 
tom of forcing theire entrance at the fourth or fifth acts 
without payment." 1 Late in February, 1665, the King 
promulgated another edict setting forth that : 

Whereas complaint hath been made unto us by our Servants, 
the Actors in the Royal Theatre, that divers persons refuse to pay 
at the first door of the said Theatre, thereby obliging the door- 
keepers to send after, solicit, and importune them for their entrance 
money. For the prevention therefore of those disorders, and that 
such as are employed by the said Actors may have no opportunity 
of deceiving them, our will and pleasure is that all persons coming 
to the said Theatre shall, at the first door, pay their entrance money 
(to be restored to them again in case they return the same way before 
the end of the Act) requiring the guards attending there, and all whom 
it may concern, to see that obedience be given hereunto, etc. etc. 2 

Mean advantage was often taken of this privilege of 
remaining for an act without payment. By dint of going on 
successive days during the run of a new play, and of sitting 
out the first act on the first day, the second on the second, 
and so on, the impecunious or parsimonious gallant could 
eventually see the whole of a reigning attraction gratis. In 
the ballad-epilogue to his comedy of The Mans the Master 
(1668), Sir William D'Avenant trenchantly girds at this 
dishonest practice : 

And some — a deuce take 'em ! — pretend 
They come but to speak with a friend ; 
Then wickedly rob us of a whole play 
By stealing five times an act in a day. 

1 Cf. Robert W. Lowe, op. cit. p. 24. On May 16, 1668, a warrant was issued 
iterating this prohibition [State Papers, Dom. Series, Charles II, 1667-8, p. 395). 

2 Collier, Hist. Dram. Poetry, iii. 341 note. 

104 Early Systems of Admission 

On the principle of" taste and try before you buy," this 
concession of seeing an act gratis was so politic that it might 
have proved satisfactory to all parties had it not been for 
the evasions of the tricksters. Little notice having been 
taken of his former warrants, Charles II issued, on 23 July, 
1 670, a more drastic proclamation. Complaint having been 
made that people were continuing to force their way into 
the two theatres without paying, it was decreed that no 
person was to come rudely or by force into either house 
without paying the established prices. No money was to be 
returned to any person whatever, but all leaving their seats 
during the performance would be given pass-out checks. 
No one was to be allowed to force their way in " by any 
pretended usage of an entrance at the fifth act," and the 
officers and guards attending the theatres were to take such 
offenders into custody, or lose a day's pay. But for all the 
heed that was taken of this edict, old Rowley might as well 
have been the veriest monarch of opera bouffe. An import- 
ant variant of the proclamation had at length to be issued 
from Whitehall on 2 February, 1673-4. It began : 

Charles R. Whereas complaint hath often been made unto us 
that divers persons do rudely press, and with evil language and 
blows force their way into our theatres (called the Theatre Royal 
in Bridges Street and the Duke's Theatre in Dorset Gardens) 2 at 
the time of their public representations and actings, without paying 
the priceestablished at both the said theatres, to the great disturbance 
of our servants licensed by our authority as well as others, and to 
the danger of the public peace; our will and pleasure therefore is, 
and we do hereby straightly charge and command, that no person 
of what quality soever do presume to come into either of the said 
theatres before and during the time of acting, and until the plays 
are quite finished, without paying the price established for the 
respective places. And our further command is, that the money 

1 Bibliotheca Lindesiana, Vol. v, Royal Proclamations, 1485-1714 (Oxford, 1910), 
No. 3536. Another order to the same effect was issued on 6 November, 1672 [State 
Papers, Dom. Series, Charles II, 1672-3, p. 131). It dealt, however, only with the 
Theatre Royal (as the Lincoln's Inn Fields house was then temporarily styled), and 
presented an important new clause : "and particularly that no attendants of the nobility 
or gentry take a place in the house without paying." 

2 If the testimony of old engravings may be trusted the Theatre Royal (Wren's 
house) had three front entrances, but the Duke's Theatre only one. 

Early Systems of Admission 105 

which shall be paid so by any persons in their respective places 
shall not be returned again, after it is once paid, notwithstanding 
that such persons shall go out at any time before or during the 
play : And (to avoid future fraud) that none hereafter shall enter 
the Pit, First, or Upper Gallery, without delivery to the respective 
doorkeepers the ticket or tickets which they received for their money 
paid at the first door. 1 

It is to be noted that no mention is here made of the 
boxes, and there, at least, one has some reason for believing, 
gathering went on between the acts as in earlier days. The 
old money-box had at any rate survived the repressions of 
the Commonwealth, for Sir William D'Avenant, in the 
ballad-epilogue to The Mans the Master (1668), already 
referred to, tells the gallants about town : 

You visit our plays, and merit the stocks 
For paying half crowns of brass to our box. 

By reference to the last stanza of the epilogue it will be 
seen that this fraud was practised in connexion with interior 
gathering, and not in making payment to a box at the 
entrance door. 

Other abuses soon sprang up. Many men of rank and 
fashion, like Pepys' friend, Sir Philip Carteret, treated the 
playhouse like a tavern, and " did run upon the score for 
plays." 2 One has reason to feel thankful to the diary- 
keeping Secretary of the Admiralty for his evidence on this 
point, else one might have fallen into the error of looking 
upon an allusion to the practice in Shadwell's comedy of 
The True Widow (1679) as distorted satire. In a scene in 
the fourth act of this play representing the pit of the play- 
house the following colloquy occurs: 

First Doorkeeper. Pray, Sir, pay me ; my Masters will make me 
pay it. 

Third Man. Impudent rascal! do you ask me for money? Take 
that, Sirrah ! 

1 Bibliotheca Lindesiana, Vol. vi, No. 3588. This order is cited in extenso, under 
a wrong date, in Percy Fitzgerald's Neiv History of the English Stage, i. 146. With slight 
modifications, it was re-issued, under William and Mary, on 14 November, 1689 
[Cal. State Papers, Dom. Ser., 1689-90, p. 321). 

2 A similar custom obtained in Paris in Moliere's time. See Victor Fournel, 
Curiosite's Tbeatrales, p. 143. 

106 Early Systems of Admission 

Second Doorkeeper. Will you pay me, Sir? 

Fourth Man. No ; I don't intend to stay. 

Second Doorkeeper. So you say every day, and see two or three 
Acts for nothing. 

Fourth Man. I'll break your Plead, you Rascal ! 

First Doorkeeper. Pray, Sir, pay me. 

Third Man. Set it down ; I have no Silver about me ; or bid 
my man pay you. 1 

Theodosia. What ! do Gentlemen run on Tick for Plays ? 

Carlos. As familiarly as with their Taylors. 

The occasional reference to the guard in royal warrants 
of this period regulating the traffic at the theatres draws 
attention to the fact that, shortly after the King came to his 
own, officers had been appointed to preserve the peace in 
the re-opened houses. In August, 1660, there had been 
much tumult at the Cockpit in Drury Lane through the 
soldiers making forcible entry into the theatre, and the 
Duke of Albemarle had found it necessary to make a 
proclamation 2 to the troops forbidding the practice. Three 
months later the king issued a warrant to John Rogers 
granting him authority to provide men to guard " the 
publique playhouses and showes from all molestation," 
Rogers to be compensated by the imposition of five per 
cent, on the theatre receipts, said receipts to be declared on 
oath. 3 How long this irksome arrangement lasted it would 
be difficult to say, but it would appear that shortly after the 
opening of the first picture-stage theatres in Lincoln's Inn 
Fields and Bridges Street, a military guard was appointed 
to each theatre and that it stood throughout the perform- 
ance at the front of the building. An old exterior view of 
Wren's Drury Lane, as opened in 1674, shows in the 
facade two niches designed as sentry-boxes and occupied 
by musketeers. Requisite as this arrangement was in the 

1 The instruction, "bid my man pay you," refers to the circumstance that foot- 
men in attendance on their masters were allowed into the gallery free. Cf. article, 
" A Restoration Playhouse " (dealing with the Duke's Theatre in 1676), in The Tribune 
for 6 August, 1906. See also the anecdote related by Dr. Doran in Their Majesties' 
Servants (1897), p. 94. 

2 For a copy, see Egerton MSS. 2^42, folio 405 (in British Museum). 

3 State Papers, Dom Ser., Charles II. 

WREN'S DRURY LANE, BUILT IN 1674. [To face p. 106. 

(Showing the niches for the armed guard). 

Early Systems of Admission 107 

days when gentlemen wore swords and drew them on the 
slightest provocation, it sometimes created instead of allay- 
ing tumult. Writing on Thursday, 17 December, 1691, 
Luttrell records : 

Last Tewsday a great disorder at the playhouse 1 , where the lord 
Grey of Ruthen and viscount Longueville were knockt downe 
and 2 other lords puncht with the butt ends of muskets; they 
complained of the affront to his majestie, who referred them to the 
house of lords, where they made application yesterday ; and the 
lords thereon desired his majestie would be please to command 
the suspending acting of playes till further order. 

According to the inquiry 2 which took place in the House 
of Lords on 1 7 December, it appears that Lord Grey (accom- 
panied by his brother) tried to enter the theatre without 
paying and that the sentry stopped him, and said he must 
take a ticket. The evidence was somewhat conflicting, one 
witness stating that the Sergeant of the Guard took Lord 
Longueville by the shoulder and pushed him, and another 
that the musketeers struck at his lordship's servant, and 
that a musket went off accidentally in the melee. One of 
the spiritual peers took advantage of this complaint to move 
the total suppression of the playhouses, on the ground that 
they were nurseries of lewdness, but the House was not in 
accord with his sentiments, and merely directed that acting 
should be suspended until further order, and that the 
military should discontinue guarding the theatre. The 
sergeant of the guard and a musketeer were committed to 
the Gate House in Whitehall and kept in confinement for 
several days. On 1 9 December, a petition was presented on 
behalf of Alexander D'Avenant, Richard Middlemore, and 
Andrew Card, sharers and adventurers in the Playhouse, 
praying the removal of the embargo, and promising that 
care would be taken "to prevent the like miscarriage for 
the future." Feeling, probably, that the punishment had 
been in excess of the offence, the Lords at once permitted 
acting to be renewed. 

1 Evidently Drury Lane. 

2 Cf. Hist. MSS. Comtn. 1 3th Rep. (Hou3e of Lords, 1 690-1 .) App., Pt. V, p. 464. 

108 Early Systems of Admission 

It is difficult to know exactly how or when the subsequent 
custom of placing two grenadiers on guard on either side of 
the proscenium arch during the performance sprang into 
being. * No very firm basis exists for the routine opinion 
that it was purely the outcome of a serious riot behind the 
scenes at the Lincoln's Inn Fields theatre in February, 
1 72 1. In the only authentic account we have of that dis- 
turbance, Benjamin Victor's, 2 we read, "The King being 
informed of the whole affair, was highly offended, and 
ordered a guard to attend that Theatre as well as the other, 
which is continued to this day." This has been interpreted 
to mean that the King then ordered a guard to attend both 
theatres, but it is doubtful if this is what Victor intended to 
convey, especially as there is some reason to believe that the 
practice was already in vogue at the Theatre Royal, Drury 
Lane. On the previous page, Victor loosely quotes from 
Whincop to the effect that "he says, the reason why he 
sometimes writes the Theatre in Lincolns-Inn-Fields, and 
sometimes the Theatre Royal in Lincolns-Inn-Fields, is 
that in the year 1721 Mr. Rich obtained leave for a party 
of the Guards to do duty at his house like the other, and 
that gave it the name of the Theatre Royal." It is note- 
worthy that Victor, in contravening this statement as to the 
origin of the term Theatre Royal as applied to Rich's theatre, 
makes no attempt to dispute the assertion that the guard 
was already in existence at Drury Lane. 

Kings might issue edicts but playgoers persisted in 
pursuing the even tenor of their way. The fop maintained 
his old right of seeing an act free as it ministered to his 
vanity. " Then you must know," says Sir Novelty Fashion 
to Narcissa, in Cibber's comedy of Loves Last Shift (1696), 

my coach and equipage are as well known as myself, and since the 
conveniency of two play-houses I have a better opportunity of 

1 Cf. The Elizabethan Playhouse and other Studies. (First Series), p. 178. For some 
anecdotes showing how the guard had been occasionally affected by the acting, see 
The London Magazine for June, 1742, p. 292. In 1735, the nightly cost of the guard at 
Covent Garden was apparently 145. See article, "Old Time Theatrical Expenditure," 
in The Stage for 23 July, 1903. 

2 History of the Theatres of London and Dublin (1761), ii. 148-50. 

Early Systems of Admission 109 

showing them. For between every act — whisk ! — I am gone from 
one to the other. Oh, what pleasure it is at a good play to go out 
before half an act's out. 

Why at a good play ? [asks Narcissa.] 

Oh, Madam, it looks particular, and gives the whole audience an 
opportunity of turning upon me at once. Then do they conclude 
I have some extraordinary business, or a fine woman to go to at 
least. And then again it shows my contempt of what the dull 
town thinks their chiefest diversion. 

Another eleven years elapse and still the practice holds. 
In the fourth act of The Beaux Stratagem, we find Archer 
and Aimwell reviewing their old days of impecuniosity,and 
dreading the necessity of being again obliged cc to sneak into 
the side-box and between both houses steal two acts of a 
play, and because we han't money to see the other three, we 
come away discontented, and damn the whole five." This 
confession is elucidated by a passage in Charles Shadwell's 
comedy of The Humours of the Army (1713), wherein we 
learn that the old practice of" gathering" in the boxes still 
went on. The rakes, we are told, "live as much by their 
wits as ever ; and to avoid the clinking dun of a boxkeeper, 
at the end of one act they sneak to the opposite side till 
the end of another ; then call the boxkeeper saucy rascal, 
ridicule the poet, laugh at the actors, march to the opera, 
and spunge away the rest of the evening." The opera to 
which they marched, otherwise the King's Theatre in the 
Haymarket, soon grew weary of their presence, and in 
October, 17 14, the management notified the town that 
"Persons frequently coming for an act without paying, 
no person can be admitted without a ticket." New rogues 
found new methods of taking advantage of the old privilege. 
There were generally two doors into the pit, and, in one 
scandalous instance that came to light, two persons who 
came in at one door, with orders, were handed the admission 
money they were presumed to have paid, on leaving not 
long after by the other ! The latest moment at which they 
could have left in order to accomplish this act of roguery is 
indicated in a passage from an unspecified pamphlet by 

no Early Systems of Admission 

Theophilus Cibber, quoted by Mr. Percy Fitzgerald in his 
New History of the English Stage 1 : 

There was a person who mingled with this set of gentlemen, 
more remarkable for his economy than any other extraordinary 
quality, who perhaps did not pay for one play in ten he saw, as he 
could reconcile himself with an easy address to solicit an order (or 
frank ticket) from the managers ; nay, he was so particularly cautious 
in his conduct as to his disbursements, that he often, as he loved 
music (or pretended a taste for it), would take a place in the pit, 
to hear the first and second music (which latter used to be some 
select piece), but prudently retired, taking his money again at the 
door before the third music, 2 and by that means often kept out a 
spectator who would have been glad to have enjoyed the whole 
entertainment, though he paid for it. 

As the third music was what was known in Restoration 
times as "the curtain tune" and heralded the performance, 
Cibber's parsimonious acquaintance found it necessary to 
leave in accordance with the regulation, " No money to be 
return'd after the curtain is drawn." This rule, which long 
held sway despite intermittent shelving, first came into 
vogue in the last quarter of the seventeenth century. 3 It had 
application to all parts of the house except the boxes, where 
the old custom of gathering between the acts still obtained 
and led to many abuses. In Dublin, in 1740, one finds 
Lewis Duval, the manager of the Smock Alley theatre, 
advertising, "whereas complaints have been made that 
numbers of persons nightly shift from box to box and into 
the pit, so to the stage, which appears on inquiry that it is 
to avoid paying ; for the future prevention thereof an office 
is kept for the boxes, where all gentlemen are requested to 
take tickets before they go in." 4 Curiously enough, metal 
checks admitting to the pit and galleries had long been in 
vogue (examples of Drury Lane pit checks, dated 1 67 1 and 

1 Vol. i. p. 431. The period dealt with would be c. 1740. 

2 For further details concerning the first, second, and third music, see my subse- 
quent paper on "The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms." 

3 See the Drury Lane bill of 30 November, 1692, cited in my paper on "The 
Origin of the Theatre Programme." 

4 Advertisement of performance of 27 November, 1740, in Faulkner's Dublin 

Early Systems of Admission 1 1 1 

1684, are still extant), 1 and one cannot well see why the 
primitive system was allowed to obtain in the boxes. 

From Shakespeare to Cibber the dishonesty of the 
money-taker was a byword. 2 There is still extant a letter 
from William Birde, the actor, to Edward Alleyn, setting 
forth that : 

There is one John Russell, that by your appoyntment was made 
a gatherer with us, but my fellowes finding falce to us, have many 
tvmes warnd him from taking the box; and he as often, with moste 
damnable othes, hathe vowde never to touch; yet, notwithstanding 
his excecrable othes, he hath taken the box, and many tymes moste 
unconscionablye gathered, for which we have resolved he shall never 
more come to the doore. Yet, for your sake, he shall have his wages, 
to be a necessary atendaunt on the stage, and if he will pleasure him- 
self and us to mend our garments, when he hath leysure, weele pay 
him for that to. 3 

Abundant testimony exists to show that the old door- 
keepers were past masters in the art of legerdemain. In 
a satirical pamphlet, published in 1 643, called " The Actors' 
Remonstrance or Complaint for the Silencing of their 
Profession," one finds the statement whimsically advanced, 
"Nay, our verie doore keepers, men and women, most 
grievously complain that by this cessation they are robbed 
of the privilege of stealing from us with license ; they 
cannot now seem to scratch their heads where they itch 
not, and drop shillings and half crown pieces in at their 
collars." All was fish that came to their net ; on occasion 
they could cheat the playgoer equally with the actors. 
Writing on 23 February, 1668, Pepys says : 

I was prettily served this day at the playhouse door, where, 
giving six shillings into the fellow's hand for us three, the fellow 

1 For reproductions, see Alexander Cargill's article on " Shakespeare as an Actor," 
in Scribner's Magazine, Vol. ix, No. 53 (1891), p. 619. The Upper Gallery ticket 
there given as belonging to the Globe was issued by the Red Bull at the Restoration. 
The undescribed check reproduced on p. 635 is a Dublin theatre-ticket of c. 1693. Cf. 
Gent's Mag., Vol. lxxxiii, pt. ii. (1813), p. 217, where two other seventeenth-century 
tickets are given. 

2 For the thieveries of the French doorkeepers in the second quarter of the 
seventeenth century, see Eugene Rigal, he Theatre Francais avant la Periode Classique, 
pp. 156 ff~. That the later English check-taker lived up to the sinister reputation of his 
predecessors is shown by E. L. Blanchard in "A Chapter on Check-Takers," in The 
Era Almanack for 1874, p. 37. 3 Collier, The Alleyn Papers, p. 32. 

H2 Early Systems of Admission 

by legerdemain did convey one away ; and with so much grace 
faced me down that I did give him but five, that though I knew 
the contrary, yet I was overpowered by his so grave and serious 
demanding the other shilling, that I could not deny him but was 
forced by myself to give it him. 

As for the box-keepers, so lax was the check upon them that 
they waxed fat by systematic peculation. "Box-keepers, 
whatever they may be now, by the managers keeping an 
eye over their conduct," writes Davies in his Dramatic 
Miscellanies, 1 "were formerly richer than their masters. 
A remarkable instance of it I heard many years since. 
Colley Cibber had, in a prologue or some part of a play, 
given such offence to a certain great man in power, that 
the playhouse, by order of the Lord Chamberlain, was shut 
up for some time, Cibber was arrested, and the damages 
laid at ten thousand pounds. Of this misfortune Booth 
and Wilks were talking very seriously, at the playhouse, 
in the presence of a Mr. King, the box-keeper ; who asked 
if he could be of any service, by offering to bail Cibber. — 
'Why, you blockhead', said Wilks, c it is for ten thousand 
pounds.' — 'I should be very sorry', said the box-keeper, 
'if I could not be answerable for twice that sum'. The 
managers stared at each other ; and Booth said, with some 
emotion to Wilks, c What have you and I been doing, Bob, 
all this time ? A box-keeper can buy us both.' ' 

In connexion with the production of Fielding's Pasquin 
at the Haymarket in April, 1736, an advertisement was 
issued that "to prevent the frequent cheats of Doorkeepers, 
'tis hoped no gentleman will refuse to take a ticket as he 
goes in ; and the Ladies, to prevent their waiting at the 
door, are desired to send to the office at the Theatre, where 
tickets for the day will be delivered each morning at 45. each, 
Pit 2s. 6d., Gallery n." Progress, however, was slow, and 
two years later we find gathering still going on in the boxes. 
In December, 173 8, a correspondent assuming the character 
of Miss Townley, thus addressed the editor of The London 
Evening Post : — 

1 Dublin, 1784, iii. p. 182. 

Early Systems of Admission 113 

I am a young woman of fashion who love plays, and should be 
glad to frequent them as agreeable and instructive entertainment, 
but am. debarred that diversion by my relations upon account of 
a sort of people who now fill or rather infest the boxes. I went 
the other night to the play with an aunt of mine, a well-bred 
woman of the last age, though a little formal. When we sat down 
in the front boxes we found ourselves surrounded by a parcel of 
the strangest fellows that ever I saw in my life; some of them 
had those loose kind of greatcoats on which I have heard called 
wrap-rascals, with gold-laced hats, slouched in humble imitation 
of stage-coachmen ; others aspired at being grooms, and had dirty 
boots and spurs, with black caps on, and long whips in their hands; 
a third sort wore scanty frocks, with little, shabby hats, put on one 
side, and clubs in their hands. My aunt whispered me that she 
never saw such a set of slovenly, unmannerly footmen sent to keep 
places in her life, when, to her great surprise, she saw those fellows, 
at the end of the act, pay the box-keeper for their places. 

By way of keeping a check on the box-keeper, the office 
of "the numberer " was instituted. In the larger theatres 
a stage box was assigned to this worthy, and from this coign 
of vantage he had to take stock of the boxes. Thomas Arne, 
who held the post at Drury Lane in 1735, was one of the 
principal witnesses at the trial of Charles Macklin for the 
murder of Thomas Hallam, his fellow-player. 1 In his 
Reminiscences 2 Henry Angelo writes : 

Before Old Drury Lane was rebuilt, the last box next to the 
stage, of the very upper boxes, on the prompter's side, was called 
the numberer's box; it projected out from the others like a tub. 
There, old Hardham, who kept the snuff shop in Fleet-street, 
and was famous for his thirty-seven (snuff), previous to the half 
price and after, used to number the audience. When a boy, many 
an evening, being a favourite of the old man, I was welcome there, 
when I used to meet Mrs Barry (afterward Mrs Crawford), Mrs 
Abingdon, and Miss Young (late Mrs Pope), with their long black 
veils, incog. 

Necessity rather than mere matter of custom preserved 
the Elizabethan practice of charging advanced prices on 
the first nights of a new play until the meridian of the 

1 E. A. Parry, Charles Macklin, p. 27. 

2 Vol. ii. 233. Drury Lane was rebuilt in 1789. 


114 Early Systems of Admission 

eighteenth century. There was little grumbling over this, 
as it was felt that the players had a right to recoup them- 
selves for the extra outlay on new scenery and dresses. But 
with the vogue of pantomimes towards the close of the 
second decade of the century, and the keen rivalry between 
the patent theatres in exploiting the new "entertainment", 
as it was called, the question of finance became more serious. 
One must recall that the primeval pantomime was not identi- 
fied with any particular season. As an afterpiece to the play 
it could be produced at any time or, like an ordinary drama, 
revived at any time. Its attractions lay in magic and marvels, 
in comic surprises and bustling dumb show. To produce it 
adequately made a severe draft on the managerial exchequer, 
as much as a thousand pounds having, on occasion, to 
be expended on the elaborate trick scenery and general 
mechanical equipment. Under these conditions it was not 
surprising that a more frequent demand came to be made 
on the playgoer's pocket, as it was necessary now not only 
to charge advanced prices on the early nights of a new 
play, but during the first run of a new pantomime. The 
public grimly bore the infliction ; but there was a limit to 
its endurance, and snapping point was reached in November, 
1744, when Fleetwood, the Drury Lane manager, had the 
audacity to raise the prices on reviving an old pantomime of 
no particular merit. The result was rioting in the theatre, 
followed by a temporary closure. People of taste gave 
expression to the opinion that pantomimes were a degrada- 
tion of the stage and refused to be mulcted on their account ; 
but Fleetwood, in an address to the public made in The 
General Advertiser, urged the prime necessity to draw the 
crowd, arguing (what many later managers found to be a 
truism) that without the funds provided by pantomimes it 
would be impossible to pay much attention to the claims 
of the poetic drama. 

At length, on the suggestion of Theophilus Cibber, a 
compromise was arrived at. It was arranged that during 
the run of a pantomime full prices should be paid at the 
doors, but that those who did not care to stop for the 

Early Systems of Admission 115 

afterpiece should secure a ticket on entering, by returning 
which before the pantomime began they could obtain a 
refund of the excess. An announcement to this effect was 
regularly printed at the bottom of the bills, but the curious 
thine was that the concession led to no serious diminution 


of the receipts. Theophilus Cibber, who was in a position 
to know, questioned if there was a demand in all for ^20 
in the course of the succeeding decade. l 

The duration of the custom thus established is impressed 
upon us by a metaphorical allusion to it made some seven- 
teen years later by Sterne, in Tristram Shandy: 2 

My Uncle Toby and Yorick made the obeisance which was 
proper; and the Corporal, though he was not included in the 
compliment, laid his hand upon his breast, and made his bow at 
the same time — The Company smiled — Trim, quoth my father, 
has paid the full price for staying out the entertainment. He did 
not seem to relish the play, replied Yorick. 

Since Fleetwood's concession was virtually the accept- 
ance, at certain periods, of half price for the first part of the 
evening's entertainment, one is naturally disposed to think 
that it led to the immediate establishment of half price 
for the second part, that longevous principle known in 
the beginning as "Half price after the third act," and 
considerably later as "Second Price at nine o'clock." On 
further examination, however, it would appear that half 
price, in the regulation sense of the term, had been 
established in the London theatres some little time before 
the riot at Old Drury over Fleetwood's innovation. When 
the new Capel Street Theatre in Dublin was opened on 
17 January, 1744-5, with The Merchant of Venice^ the 
newspaper announcement of the event concluded with the 
intimation, "No odd money taken till after the third act." 3 
That half price was then taken in all the Dublin theatres is 
shown by the fact that when the pantomime of Harlequin 
Doctor Faustus was revived at the Aungier Street Theatre on 

1 Fitzgerald's Neiv History of the English Stage, i. 43 1 . For fuller details concerning 
the riot, etc., see Victor's History of the Theatres of London and Dublin, i. 43~7» an d 
Dutton Cook's Book of the Play, Chap. xx. 2 Book v, Chap. 30. 

3 Vol. of Faulkner s Dublin Journal for 1745 in the Departmental Library, Dublin Castle. 

n6 Early Systems of Admission 

2 1 March following, it was notified in the advertisements 
that, on account of the great expense, "no odd money" would 
be "taken in any part of the House during the whole per- 
formance." If the principle of half price had not been estab- 
lished in London before December, 1 744, we should hardly 
find it existing in Dublin a month later. Nor does it seem 
feasible to suppose that it had originated in Dublin, despite 
the fact that the Dublin theatres of the period had a few 
distinctive customs of their own. Unless imported, it could 
only have arisen there through popular demand, but as a 
matter of fact, the system was so little taken advantage of, 
that it had become obsolete by the middle of the century. 1 
Dawson revived it at the new Capel Street Theatre in 
November, 1773, when the bills announced, "Half price 
after the third act as in London. No money returned after 
the raising of the curtain." But again it died out, only to 
be revived again with more acceptance seventy years later. 
Under whatever conditions it had originated in London, 
whether voluntarily or under pressure, the managers soon 
grew to look askance at " Half price after the third act." 
So many exceptions were made to the rule that none but 
constant playgoers could say when it applied. It was not in 
force during the first nights of new plays and new panto- 
mimes, or on benefit nights. On any occasion when there 
was likely to be a full house the managers arbitrarily notified 
the public that " nothing under full prices would be taken." 
In process of time a sense of grievance sprang up, and early 
in 1763 this was adroitly taken advantage of by an elegant 
man about town and "amateur of the theatre" (as the old 
phrase went), to arouse antagonism against Garrick, whom, 
for divers reasons, he owed a grudge. This Mr. Fitzpatrick, 
who was a man of parts, for all the mud that has been flung at 
him by Garrickolaters, began by circulatingin the taverns and 
coffee houses on the morning of 25 January an anonymous 
handbill 2 complaining of the conduct of the managers in 

1 Cf. John O'Keeffe's Recollections, i. 286. 

2 Printed in extenso in The Gent's Magazine for 1763, p. 31, where some account of 
the disturbance is also given. For other details see Murphy's Life of Garrick, Chap, xxx; 
Davies' Life of Garrick, Chap, xxx $ and Dutton Cook's Book of the Play, Chap. xx. 

Early Systems of Admission 117 

restricting the rights of playgoers so far as half price was 
concerned, and suggesting that vigorous action should be 
taken. A cabal, headed by Fitzpatrick, had already been 
formed, and the same evening the conspirators attended a 
performance at Drury Lane of Victor's recently produced 
adaptation of The Two Gentlemen of Verona^ announced as 
for the benefit of the author. The players in those days 
were voted fair game by the mob, and when Fitzpatrick 
harangued the audience concerning the mooted grievance, 
public opinion ranged itself on his side. When Garrick 
came on to argue the point, the house was in no mood for 
casuistry and proceeded to smash things. By way of indirect 
punishment for his maltreatment of Shakespeare, Victor's 
benefit proved the worst on record, for all the money had 
to be returned. 

On the following night the cabal attended in full force. 
Garrick, who had meanwhile taken counsel with his partner 
Lacy and been over-ruled by his opinion, was at once 
called for. On making his appearance he was heckled by 
Fitzpatrick, who curtly demanded, "Will you, or will you 
not, allow admittance at half price after the third act of 
every piece, except a new pantomime, during its run in 
the first winter ?" Little Davy meekly answered "Yes", 
and victory lay with the cabal. 

What was in the beginning a conspiracy against Garrick 
had now developed into a public issue. The victory was 
only half gained, for Garrick could only answer for Old 
Drury, and Covent Garden remained unassaulted. On the 
following night, 1 when the opera of Artaxerxes was in the 
bill at the other house and Beard the manager had thrown 
down the gage of defiance in announcing that nothing 
under full price would be taken, Fitzpatrick and his allies 
turned their batteries in that direction, only to meet with 
determined opposition. Beard made a vigorous speech, and 
wound up by saying "No". The only possible rejoinder 
on the part of the cabal was to tear up the benches, demolish 
the scenery, and smash the chandeliers, and this they did 

1 Genest says on 24 February, but his dating is clearly wrong. 

1 1 8 Early Systems of Admission 

completely to their satisfaction. Not yet defeated, Beard 
haled Fitzpatrick and a few of his cronies before the Lord 
Chief Justice, who duly admonished them. This led to 
a change of tactics, but after the Covent Garden players 
were disturbed for several nights with cat-calls, and other 
annoyances, Beard ate the leek, and peace was declared. 1 
Thus was gained, in the words of Davies, "the wonderful 
privilege of seeing two acts of a play at half price, and 
the exalting of pantomime to a rank superior to tragedy 
and comedy." 

Relics of one or two time-honoured customs lingered 
in the boxes of Old Drury until the great success of Mrs. 
Siddons' epoch-marking engagement of 1782-3 created 
a revolution in the outworn system of admission. Owing 
to the steady demand for seats, it was then arranged that 
places in the boxes could be secured beforehand on paying 
half the price of admission and securing a ticket. The other 
half had to be paid on entering the theatre, otherwise the 
deposit was forfeited. This, of course, was not a system 
of advance booking, because nobody had as yet hit upon 
the simple expedient of numbering seats. But only as 
many people were supplied with tickets for any particular 
night as the boxes would hold. Those who wished to secure 
good seats had to go early and bribe the boxkeeper. 

To the superior merits of this new system a writer in 
1788 bore significant testimony: 2 

The regulation of detaining all money paid at the door has 
been found of good effect to the audience. It completely excludes 
temporary loungers who kept up a continued noise by peeping into 
the boxes for the purpose of shewing their own persons, and having 
gained their end, drew their money and retired. 

Of a surety Sir Novelty Fashion was not lacking in lineal 
descendants ! 

1 I base here on the accounts of Charles Dibdin (as cited in Mr. H. Saxe 
Wyndham's Annals of Covent Garden Theatre, i. I 54-5), and of Thomas Davies, loc. 
cit. Murphy, whose memory evidently betrayed him, says per contra, "Covent Garden 
was at liberty to proceed on the old system, while Garrick, the great patron of the 
drama, was obliged to submit to the law of the conquerors." 

2 Walker's Hibernian Magazine, 1788, p. 565. Evidently a reprint from some London 

The Origin of the English Picture-Stage 

The Origin of the English Picture-Stage 

Bating some excellent pioneer work done during the last 
few years, and that mostly by foreigners, English theatrical 
history has been, on the whole, indifferently written. Time- 
honoured fallacies have been again and again complacently 
endorsed, and for the most part there has been a sedulous 
avoidance of the drudgeries of research. To think of 
certain unexplored tracts in English theatrical history is to 
recall that our historians with their feeble searchlights have 
only rendered the surrounding darkness more visible. By 
their muddled methods they have succeeded in obscuring 
from view the fact that the Civil War delayed the regular 
employment of successive scenery in the English theatre for 
fully a score of years. One says, " the regular employment ", 
not the introduction, because there are sound reasons for 
believing that some tentative use had been made of movable 
scenery in the private theatres about the period of 1 63 7-40. * 
In the first case we know positively that Nabbes' masque of 
Microcosmus had been "presented with generall liking" (as 
the title page states) at Salisbury Court in 1637, and nowhere 
else. And we know also from the book that this masque — 
which, unlike its court analogues, was divided into acts — had 
a special proscenium arch and five sets of scenes. Of the 
arch, or " front ", we are told that it was " of a workmanship 
proper to the fancy of the rest, adorn'd with brass figures of 
Angels and Divels, with Severall inscriptions, the Title in 
an Escocheon supported by an Angell and a Divell. Within 
the arche a Continuing perspective of ruines which is drawne 
still before the other scenes whilst they are varied." 

Apart from this bold attempt to adapt the court masque to 
the uses of the stage as a substantive entertainment, we have 

1 Fleay finds earlier indications but, irrespective of his confused method of argu- 
ment, the evidence is too slender to be relied upon. (Biog. Cbron. Eng. Drama under 
Pallantus aud Eudora and Loves Mistress). At present I prefer to choose as starting 
point a period where the foothold is firmer. 

122 The Origin of the English Picture-Stage 

also some evidence indicating that one or two plays written 
by courtiers were either originally acted at court with scenery 
and afterwards at the private theatres with the same trap- 
pings, or vice versa. In the prologue to Brome's comedy, The 
Antipodes, as spoken at Salisbury Court in 1 638, we read : 

Opinion, which our Author cannot court, 

(For the deare daintinesse of it) has, of late, 

From the old way of Playes possest a sort 

Only to run to those, that carry state 

In Scene magnificent and language high ; 

And Cloaths worth all the rest, except the Action. 

And such are only good those Leaders cry ; 

And into that beleefe draw on a Faction, 

That must despise all sportive, merry Wit, 

Because some such great Play had none in it. 

The reference here, more especially the "and Cloaths 
worth all the rest," is clearly to Sir John Suckling's tragi- 
comedy Aglaura, which had first been produced at Black- 
friars in the Christmas of 1637, and was shortly afterwards 
acted at court. 1 Of this play, Aubrey, in his account of 
Suckling, writes, " he had some scenes to it, which in those 
days were only used at Masques." Moreover, in a letter 
from Mr. Garrard to Lord Strafford, under date 7 February, 
1637-8, we read : 

Two of the king's servants, privy chamber men both, have writ 
each of them a play, Sir John Sutlin and Will. Barclay, which have 
been acted in court, and at the Blackfriars, with much applause. 
Sutlin's play cost three or four hundred pounds setting out ; eight 
or ten suits of new cloaths he gave the players; an unheard of 
prodigality. 2 

Another item of evidence is presented in the prologue to 
Brome's comedy, The Court Beggar, the first edition of which 
was issued in 1653, and bears on its title page the erroneous 
statement that it was "acted at the Cockpit by his Majesty's 

1 For evidence as to the sequence, see the "Prologue to the Court" in the quarto 
of 1694, described on title page as "presented at Court by His Majesties Servants." 
A second quarto of the play issued in the same year is described as "presented at the 
Private House in Black Fryers by His Majesties Servants," and has a different last act. 
These are the only copies of Aglaura in the British Museum. 

2 Strafford's Letters, ii. 150. 

The Origin of the English Picture-Stage 123 

servants, anno 1632." Seeing that reference is made in 
Act iii. 2, to Massmgers King and Subject, licensed on 5 June, 
1638, and in the epilogue to The Antipodes, the production 
of the play may be safely assigned to 1638. Can it be then 
that in the prologue Brome again girds at Aglaura ? 

We Ve cause to fear your's or the Poet's frown, 

For of late days (he knows not) how y' are grown 

Deeply in love with a new stray ne of wit 

Which he condemns, at least disliketh it, 

And solemnly protests you are to blame 

If at his hands you doe expect the same. 

He'll treat his usual way, no gaudy scene 

Shall give instructions what his plot doth mean ; 

No handsome love-toy shall your time beguile 

Forcing your pitty to a sigh or smile, 

But a slight piece of mirth, yet such were writ 

By our great Masters of the Stage and Wit, 

Whom you approv'd : let not your sufferage then 

Condemn 't in him, and prayse 't in other men. 

Troth, Gentlemen, let me advise yee, spare 

To vex the poet full of age and care, 

How he might strive to please yee, and beguile 

His humerous expectation with a smile, 

As if you would be satisfyd, although 

His Comedy contained no Antique Show. 

Yet you to him your favour may express 

As well as unto those whose forwardness 

Makes them your Creatures thought, who on the way 

To purchase fame give money with their play. 

Yet you sometimes pay, deare for 't, since they write 

Lesse for your pleasure than their own delight, 

Which if our Poet fayle in, may he be 

A scene of Mirth in their next Comedy. 

Brome's attempts to resist the encroachments of a flood 
of dilettanteism, which was bidding fair to swamp profes- 
sional authorship, serves to emphasize the fact that these 
sporadic introductions of scenery into the private theatre 
were not due to the initiative of the players, who could not 
hope to recoup themselves for any such outlay, but to the 

124 The Origin of the English Picture-Stage 

epicurean tastes of a group of courtier-wits, who, instead of 
looking for some pecuniary return for their work, gave 
money and rich attire with their plays. As a matter of fact, 
one of the prime results of the regular employment of 
scenery at the Restoration period was a considerable advance 
in the prices of admission, a course authorized by a clause in 
the new patents. 1 

A third item of evidence testifying to the use of scenery 
in the private theatres before the Civil War is to be found 
in the prologue to The Country Captaine y a comedy by the 
Duke of Newcastle, published anonymously in 1 649. This 
play was produced at the Blackfriars, probably in April or 
May, 1 640. That it was written after June, 1 639, an allu- 
sion in it to the Treaty of Berwick shows. 2 The prologue 
begins : 

Gallants, I'le tell you what we do not meane 
To shew you here, a glorious painted Scene, 
With various doores, to stand instead of wit, 
Or richer cloathes with lace, for lines well writ; 
Taylors and Paynters thus, your deare delight, 
May prove your Poets only for your sight. 

The allusion here is undoubtedly to William Habington's 
tragi-comedy, The Queen of Arragon^ which was first played 
before the King and Queen at Whitehall by amateurs on 
9 April, 1 640, and, after a second performance there, was 
given at the Blackfriars by the regular players. According 
to Sir Henry Herbert, his cousin Habington's play was 
presented at Court at the instance of the Lord Chamberlain. 
" It was performed by my Lord's servants out of his owne 
family, and his charge in the cloathes and sceanes, which 
were very riche and curious." 3 The allusion in the Duke 
of Newcastle's prologue to "a glorious painted scene with 
various doors" apparently points to the fact that the scene 
referred to was of the type long known in France as "palais 
a volonte" or "chambre a quatre portes". 4 Considering 

1 For the clause, see Percy Fitzgerald, A Neiv History of the English Stage, i. 75. 

- Fleay, Biog. Chron. Eng. Drama, i. 48. 

3 Collier, Hist. Eng. Dram. Poetry (1831), ii. 98-9. 

4 Cf. The Elizabethan Playhouse and other Studies (First Series), p. 167. 

Frontispiece to T. Corneille's comedy, Don Bertrand de Cigaral (1650), from 
the Amsterdam edition of 1718. 

The Origin of the English Picture-Stage 125 

its continental vogue at this period it is not surprising to 
find that the "chambre a quatre portes" had already been 
introduced into England. It came to stay, for one finds 
traces of it in Restoration times. 

Indisposed as were the players to make any change, the 
tide of public opinion was now running strongly in favour of 
the regular employment of scenery. One far-seeing courtier- 
poet had already decided to take it at the full. Opera of a 
highly elaborate pictorial order was now all the rage in Italy, 
more especially in Venice, and William D'Avenant made up 
his mind to introduce the new entertainment into England. 
This practically meant the building of a new theatre on a 
somewhat imposing scale, the old houses not being adapted 
for the accommodation of the Italian system of scenery and 
machinery. Accordingly, in the spring of 1639, tne King 
encouraged the project by granting D'Avenant a patent to 
build a theatre behind the Three Kings ordinary in Fleet 
Street. It was to be furnished "with necessary tiring and 
retiring rooms, and other places convenient, " and in area 
was to be " forty yards square at the most." * The patentee 
was authorised to 

entertain, govern, priviledge and keep such and so many players 
and persons to exercise action, musical presentments, scenes, dancing, 
and the like, as the said William Davenant, his heirs, etc., shall think 
fit and approve for the said house, and such persons to permit and 
continue at and during the pleasure of the said William Davenant, 
his heirs, and from time to time to act plays in such house so to be 
by him or them erected, and exercise musick, musical presentments, 
scenes, dancing, or other the like, at the same or other houses at 
times, or after plays are ended, etc., etc. 2 

Malone and Collier, in assuming this to be a licence for an 
ordinary playhouse of the conventional type, have failed to 
grasp the significance of the stress laid on "musick, musical 
presentments, scenes, dancing, or other the like," the neces- 
sary concomitants of contemporary opera. Malone, indeed, 

1 Evidently a large theatre was projected. The first Fortune, a commodious public 
playhouse, was only 80 feet square, and the Theatre Royal, Bridges Street, the second 
house of the picture-stage order, measured no more than 112 feet by 59 feet. 

2 Malone's Shakespeare (Dublin, 1794), ii. 67 5 see also Collier, op. cit. ii. 96. 

126 The Origin of the English Picture-Stage 

goes widely astray in his interpretation of the word "scenes" 
as used in the patent, more particularly with regard to the 
following clause empowering D'Avenant to charge normal 
rates of admission : — 

And that it shall and may be lawful to and for the said W. D., 
his heirs, etc., so to take and receive of such our subjects as shall 
resort to see or hear any such plays, scenes, and entertainments 
whatsoever, such sum or sums of money, as is or hereafter from 
time to time shall be accustomed to be given or taken in other 
playhouses and places for the like plays, scenes, presentments, and 

Malone argues l that throughout the patent the word 
"scenes" is used to mean "not paintings, but short stage 
representations or presentments," and gives reasons why, 
in his opinion, if the introduction of scenery had really 
been projected, something in excess of the ruling prices of 
admission would have been permitted to be charged. Even 
allowing that there is some cogency in the latter part of 
his contention (although, for that matter, the "or hereafter 
from time to time shall be accustomed to be given " seems to 
afford D'Avenant a loophole of escape), one cannot concede 
that the word "scenes" was ever employed in the theatrical 
patents of the seventeenth century in the sense of short 
sketches. On the contrary, "interludes" was the routine 
phrase bearing that interpretation. One searches in vain 
for any use whatever of the word "scenes" in any of the 
patents issued previously. And yet anyone conversant with 
the old patents knows full well how much they run in the 
one mould, how mechanical is the iteration of phrase, and 
in how senseless a manner provisoes are repeated long 
after time and change have deprived them of their validity. 
D'Avenant must have intended to build a new kind of 
theatre and give a new kind of performance, otherwise his 
patent would have echoed in part the phrasing of the patent 
granted to the King's players at the Globe and Blackfriars 
in 1620, a patent which says nothing about musical enter- 
tainments or scenes, but authorizes the licencees "freely to 

1 op. cit. ii. 68. 

The Origin of the English Picture-Stage 12 7 

use and exercise the act and Facultie of playing Comedies, 
Tragedies, Histories, Enterludes, Moralls, Pastoralls, Stage 
playes and such other like as they have already studied." 1 

To my mind it is plain, not only from the phrasing of the 
passage, "musick, musical presentments, scenes, dancing, or 
other the like," but from the clause warranting him to give 
performances after the normal playing-time that D'Avenant 
fully intended to give evening concerts as well as occasional 
performances of opera. We shall see that the actual first 
musical entertainment given seventeen years later under his 
auspices was a concert. It may be asked, of course, why, if 
it was the King's intention that D'Avenant should perform 
operas, no mention of operas occurs in the patent. As a 
matter of fact, the slangy, elliptical term "opera" had not 
yet found its way to England. It was an abbreviation of 
opera musica/e, aterm for which the "musical presentments" 
of the D'Avenant patent is an adequate equation. Evelyn 
had never heard the word opera till he visited Italy in 
1644, and in noting its common use there in his diary on 
19 November he is careful to define what it means. 

The mystery which surrounds the D'Avenant patent 
is to some extent dissipated when we come to consider 
these details. For a man of only moderate means to build 
and equip a new opera-house, and to furnish it with the 
necessary singers, dancers, instrumentalists, scene painters 
and machinists, was a truly formidable undertaking. It is 
impossible now to determine what insuperable difficulties 
sprang up in D'Avenant's path, but within five or six months 
of the granting of the patent he had decided to abandon 
his immediate project, while still hugging tenaciously his 
original scheme in its quiddity. Collier seriously confuses 
the issue by implying that the King for some mysterious 
reason withdrew his permission. 2 He did nothing of the 
kind. So far from surrendering his patent, D'Avenant 

1 For the entire patent, see Collier, op. cit. i. 416-7. 

2 op. cit. ii. 95-6. Chalmers maintains that D'Avenant had quarrelled with the 
ground landlord, evidently basing on the statement in the indenture that the locality 
in Fleet Street had been "found inconvenient and unfit for the purpose", but proof is 
lacking, and one has suspicion that the real reason was not avowed. 

128 The Origin of the English Picture-Stage 

merely made indenture 1 on 2 October, 1639, yielding up 
his right to erect a theatre in Fleet Street, and undertaking 
not to erect any other theatre in London or Westminster 
"unless the said place shall be first approved and allowed 
by warrant under his Majesty's sign-manual, or by writing 
under the hand and seal of the said Right Honourable 
Thomas Earl of Arundel and Surrey." That the patent 
lay dormant for over a score of years is shown by the fact 
that its validity was recognized at the Restoration, and that 
it was under its powers that D'Avenant's players began 
acting at Salisbury Court. On 9 July, 1660, Charles II 

A warrant for a grant to Thomas Killigrew, Groom of the Bed- 
chamber, of license to erect a company of players, which shall be 
the King's company, and build a theatre; with power to make such 
allowances as he pleases to the actors, to oblige them to performance 
of their contracts, or to silence and eject such as are mutinous; and 
as there has been great licence lately in matters of this nature, no 
companies of Actors are now to be allowed, saving this one, and 
that granted by the late King to Sir William Davenant ; all others 
to be totally suppressed. 2 

It is characteristic of D'Avenant's tenacity that the pur- 
poses for which the old patent was originally granted were 
ultimately fulfilled. On 16 May, 1 661, the King exemplified 
under the Great Seal the license granted twenty-two years 
previously by his royal father, and it was virtually under its 
authority that the Duke's Theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields, 
the first picture-stage theatre, was opened, and that operas 
were then given for the first time since the Restoration. 3 

Synchronizing with his abandonment of the Fleet Street 
scheme, D' Avenant was appointed by the Lord Chamberlain 
governor of the company acting at the Cockpit in Drury 
Lane, 4 but it cannot be found that during his period of 
authority he made serious innovation there. While he was 
still maturing his ideas on the subject of opera, the Civil 

1 For which see Collier, op. cit. ii. 96-7. 

2 State Papers, Dom. Ser., Charles II, 1660-61, p. 114. 

3 For the exemplification, see Fitzgerald's New History of the English Stage, i. 73-4. 

4 For the warrant, see Collier, op. cit. ii. 101 footnote. 
















__, z 3 
2 Z 

TJbe Origin of the English Picture-Stage 129 

War intervened, delaying the accomplishment of his pur- 
poses another fifteen years. After winning his knighthood 
at the Siege of Gloucester, and retiring for a time to France, 
he was for long a prisoner in the Tower, but on his release 
in the meridian of the Commonwealth, he, possibly with the 
view of replenishing his exhausted resources, strove to effect 
some realization of his long-nursed scheme. Proceeding 
cautiously, so as to allay suspicion as to his intent, he began by 
giving at Rutland House in Aldersgate Street, late in May, 
16565a series of oratorical-cum-musical entertainments, the 
first of which was billed as "The Entertainment by music 
and declamations after the manner of the ancients." The 
new departure consisted of a number of long and tedious 
disputations, not really dialogues, though Socratic in form, 
intermixed with appropriate original vocal and instru- 
mental music. 1 It does not appear to have been particularly 
successful, judging from the fact that on the first day only 
150 people assembled in a room capable of accommodating 
400. 2 But it probably did all it was intended to do. Rightly 
or wrongly, one surmises that it was devised partly, in its 
decorous dulness, to allay suspicion as to the nature of 
D'Avenant's whole project, and partly, by the speech of 
Aristophanes, to make defence of the rationality, not 
of plays, but of musical entertainments embellished with 
scenery. In a word, he used it as a stalking horse. Already 
vigorous preparations were being made for the production 
of the first English Opera. This was The Siege of Rhodes, 
announced as "a Representation by the art of Prospective 
in Scenes and the Story sung in Recitative Musick." The 
exact date of its production at Rutland House is unknown, 
but it can be approximated through a letter of D'Avenant's, 
addressed to Sir Bulstrode Whitelocke, the Lord Keeper, 
under date 3 September, 1656, in which we read: 

When I consider the nicety of the times, I fear it may draw a 
curtain between your Lordship and our opera; therefore I have 
presumed to send your Lordship, hot from the press, what we mean 

1 For the text, see Maidment and Logan's U Avenant, Vol. iii. 193 ff. 

2 State Papers, Dom. Ser., Interregnum (1656), Vol. cxxviii, No. 108. 


130 The Origin of the English Picture-Stage 

to represent, making your Lordship my supreme judge, though 
I despair to have the honour of inviting you to be a spectator. 1 

Viewing the conditions under which it was written and 
produced, one is not surprised to find that The Siege of 
Rhodes bears no particular resemblance to the Italian operas 
of its period. Up to this time writers of dramma per musica 
had limited themselves to mythological themes the better 
to give right of existence to the magical surprises effected 
by the machinists, whose resourceful ingenuity gave great 
vogue to effects of descending palaces, expanding clouds, 
and flights of divinities. Debarred from indulging in these 
scenic extravagances, through sheer lack of the necessary 
mechanical equipment, D'Avenant had to fall back on a 
sober, historical theme. Intercalated ballet-dancing, so 
characteristic a feature of contemporary Italian opera, was 
equally out of the question. By way of recompense for 
these shortcomings, the music in The Siege of Rhodes was 
written by no fewer than five composers, Henry Lawes, 
Captain Cooke, Matthew Lock, Dr. Charles Coleman and 
Henry Hudson. 2 Scenery of an unobtrusive kind had 
been provided by John Webbe, Inigo Jones's nephew and 
son-in-law. Of the harassing limitations of the place of 
performance, D'Avenant has much to say in his Address 
to the Reader : 

Yet I may forewarn you that the defects which I intend to excuse 
are chiefly such as you cannot reform but only with your Purse ; 
that is, by building us a larger Room; a design which we began and 
shall not be left for you to finish because we have observed that 
many who are liberal of their understanding when they would issue 
it out towards discovery of imperfections, have not always Money 
to expend in things necessary towards the making up of perfection. 

It has been often wisht that our Scenes (we have oblig'd our- 
selves to the variety of Five Changes, according to the Ancient 
Drammatick distinctions made for time) had not been confin'd to 
eleven foot in height, and about fifteen in depth, including the place 

1 Whitelocke's Af emorials, p. 6^ 9. D' Avenant's address to the reader, in the first edition 
of the opera, evidently printed before the performance, is dated "August 17, 1656." 

2 Cf. The Musical Antiquary, January, 191 1, p. 68, article on "A Great English 
Choir-trainer : Captain Henry Cooke." It is noteworthy that Cooke and Lock also took 
part in the opera as performers. 








n _^ 
(T3 2! 


5 w 

- ^ 

5" -r 

i s 

The Origin of the English Picture-Stage 131 

of passage reserv'd for the musick. This is so narrow an allowance 
for the fleet of Solyman the magnificent, his Army, the Island of 
Rhodes, and the varieties attending the Siege of the City ; that 
I fear you will think we invite you to such a contracted Trifle as 
that of the Caesars carv'd upon a Nut. 

As these limits have hinder'd the splendor of our Scene, so we are 
like to give no great satisfaction in the quantity of our Argument, 
which is in story very copious; but shrinks to a small narration 
here, because we could not convey it by more than seven Persons ; 
beingconstrain'd to prevent the length of Recitative Musick, as well 
as to conserve, without encumbrance, the narrowness of the place. 

In its original form, The Siege of Rhodes was divided into 
five acts, called entries, after the method followed in the 
French ballets de cour. As in the court masques of the 
Caroline period, a special emblematic frontispiece was 
provided with a title-inscription at the top. On the two 
sides columns of "gross rustic work supported a large 
frieze in the midst of which there was an escutcheon bear- 
ing in bold letters the word Rhodes." The whole had an 
embellishment of crimson drapery on which divers trophies 
of arms were fixed. Although nine changes of scene were 
made in the five entries, or acts, always with a clear stage, 
only five different scenes were shown, as explained by 
D'Avenant in his address to the reader. Most of the vital 
characteristics of each scene were expressed on the back 
flats, which had more the aspect of a latter-day panorama than 
of theatrical scenery in the current acceptation of the term. 
On the small stage of Rutland House the introduction of 
a host of supernumeraries was wholly impracticable, and 
D'Avenant followed French precedent 1 and established an 
English one 2 in representing his crowds on canvas. 

What measure of support was given to The Siege of 
Rhodes at Rutland House one cannot say, but it would 
appear that shortly after its production, D'Avenant, irritated 
beyond endurance by the cramped conditions under which 
performances had to be given, abandoned the room and 

1 Cf. The Elizabethan Playhouse and other Studies (First Series), p. 194 footnote. 

2 For later English examples, see Crowne's History of Charles the Eighth of France 
1672), ii. 2, and Lee's Tbcodosius, description of scene at beginning of Act i. 


132 The Origin of the English Picture-Stage 

shelved his scheme. Nothing further is to be gleaned 
until 15 October, 1658, when we find Dr. Thomas Smith, 
writing from Cockermouth to his friend Sir Daniel Fleming, 
"Sir William D'Avenant the poet-laureate, has obtained 
permission for stage plays and the Fortune Playhouse is 
being trimmed up." 1 To adopt a proverbial Irish saying, 
Smith, "if he did not knock it down, at least he staggered 
it." It was the dismantled Cockpit in Drury Lane that 
was being fitted up for D'Avenant, and the permission 
was for operas, not plays. There can be little doubt that 
the poet had obtained this concession by holding the candle 
to the devil. In 1662, Sir Henry Herbert, the rapacious 
Master of the Revels, in connexion with his dispute with 
D'Avenant, delivered a statement of his claims to the Lord 
Chancellor and Lord Chamberlain, in which he characterized 
his antagonist as 

A person who exercised the office of Master of the Revells to 
Oliver the Tyrant, and wrote the First and Second Parts of Peru^ 
acted at the Cockpit in Oliver's tyme, 2 and solely in his favour; 
wherein hee sett of the justice of Oliver's actinges, by comparison 
with the Spaniards, and endeavouring thereby to make Oliver's 
crueltyes appear mercyes, in respect of the Spanish crueltyes ; but 
the mercyes of the wicked are cruell. 

That the said Davenant published a poem in vindication and 
justification of Oliver's actions and government, and an Epithala- 
mium in praise of Oliver's daughter, M. Rich ; — as credibly 
informed. 3 

It was probably at the beginning of December, 1658, 
that D'Avenant opened the Cockpit with his new opera, 
The Cruelty of the Spaniards in Peru. 4 The opening is not 
likely to have occurred much earlier as, although Cromwell 

1 Hist. MSS. Comm. Report, 12, Pt. vii. 

3 It is doubtful if Cromwell were living at the time of the production of either 
The Cruelty of the Spaniards, etc., or Sir Francis Drake; but one at least was likely written 
considerably beforehand and submitted for approval. 

3 Malone's Shakespeare (Dublin, 1794), ii. 219. Frances Cromwell was married to 
Rich on 1 1 November, 1657. 

4 The books of the Cockpit operas appear to have been issued while they were being 
performed, seeing that two of them bear on the title page, "represented at the Cockpit 
in Drury Lane at three afternoone punctually." As The Cruelty of the Spaniards, etc., 
was printed in 1658, and The History of Sir Francis Drake and The Siege of Rhodes in 
1659, the dates would roughly indicate the order of production. 

The Origin of the* English Picture-Stage 133 

died on 3 September, his funeral did not take place until 
the 23 November. Great outcry arose amongst the Presby- 
terians, and on 14 December, Rachel Newport wrote to 
her brother, Sir R. Leveson, "it is thought the opera will 
speedily go down ; the godly party are so much discontented 
with it." The consequence was that nine days later a war- 
rant was issued from Whitehall under Richard Cromwell's 
protectorate, appointing a commission to inquire into the 
nature of the performances at the Cockpit and to demand on 
what authority they were being given. 1 That the outcome 
was not disastrous to D'Avenant's fortunes is shown by the 
fact that under date 5 May, 1 6 5 9, Evelyn writes in his Diary : 

I went to visit my brother in London and next day to see a new- 
opera after the Italian way in recitative musiq and sceanes much 
inferior to the Italian composure and magnificence : but it was 
prodigious that in a time of such public consternation such a vanity 
could be permitted. I being engaged could not decently resist the 
going to see it though my heart smote me for it. 

As to the merits of the opera, Evelyn could speak with 
authority. Had he not seen Ercole in Lidia magnificently 
performed at the Teatro Novissimo, in Venice, in 1645 - ? 
Although The History of Sir Francis Drake formed the 
first part 2 of the Peru story, it seems, oddly enough, to have 
been produced after The Cruelty of the Spaniards in Peru. 
This conclusion is derivable on a double count. In the first 
case it is indicated in the order of printing. Then again, we 
find it pointed out in the quarto of Sir Francis Drake, that 
the frontispiece was the same as that used for The Cruelty 
of the Spaniards, the excuse being that "it was convenient 
to continue it, our Argument being in the same country." 
It would appear from this that Sir Francis Drake was a pure, 
afterthought. Note that when the two operas came to 
be revived in 1663, as portions of D'Avenant's curious 
composite piece, A Playhouse to be Let, the proper sequence 
was followed, the Drake opera comprising the third act and 
The Cruelty the fourth. 

1 For the order, see R. W. Lowe, Thomas Betterton, p. 10. 

2 It is called "The First Part" on the title page of the quarto of 1659. 

134 2fe Origin of the English Picture-Stage 

For the Cruelty of the Spaniards, D'Avenant employed 
the old proscenium arch made for the original version of 
The Siege of Rhodes, merely altering the title-inscription and 
adding a couple of emblematic shields : 

An arch is discern'd rais'd upon stone of Rustick work ; upon 
the top of which is written, in an Antique Shield, Peru ; and two 
Antique Shields are fixt a little lower, on the sides, the one bearing 
the Figure of the Sun, which was the Scutchion of the Incas, who 
were Emperors of Peru ; the other did bear the Spread Eagle, in 
signification of the Austrian Family. The designe of the Frontis- 
piece is, by way of preparation to give some notice of that argument 
which is pursu'd in the Scene. 

The book reveals that the curtain was drawn up at the 
beginning: and fell at the close, but we have no hint that 
it was let down between the acts, or entries. The opera 
was divided into six entries, at the end of each, possibly 
by way of intermedii, dancing and acrobatic feats were given. 
Thus at the end of the first entry we read : 

After the song, a Rope descends out of the Clowds, and is stretcht 
to a stifness by an Engine, whilst a Rustick Ayre is played, to which 
Apes from opposite sides of the Wood come out, listen, return ; and 
comming out again, began to dance, then, after awhile, one of them 
leaps up to the Rope, and there dances to the same Ayre, whilst 
the other moves to his measures below. Then both retire into 
the Wood. The Rope ascends. 

Between the two Peru operas a considerable difference in 
structure is to be noted. Whereas Sir Francis Drake really 
partook of the nature of music drama, having dialogues in 
song, The Cruelty of the Spaniards merely consisted of a series 
of panoramic backgrounds, one to each entry, accompanied 
by illustrative songs and dances. In the latter, at the begin- 
ning of each entry, while the scene was being (doubtless, 
visually) changed, music was played, mostly symphonies 
arranged in four sections. Once the change was made 
the stage remained for some time clear, in order that 
the audience might note all the details of the paintings. 
This was vitally necessary, seeing that most of the scenes 
presented a host of figures, one of them, indeed, showing 

Tife Origin of the English Picture-Stage 135 

the great Peruvian army put to flight by a small body of 
Spaniards. Here, for example, is the official description 
of the scene of the first entry : 

A lantdchap of the West Indies is discern'd ; distinguish^ from 
other Regions by the parcht and bare Tops of distant Hills, by Sands 
shining on the shores of Rivers, and the Natives, in feather'd Habits 
and Bonnets, carrying, in Indian Baskets, Ingots of Goldand Wedges 
of Silver. Some of the Natives being likewise discern'd in their 
naturall sports of Hunting and Fishing. This prospect is made 
through a wood, differing from those of European Climats by 
representing of Coco Trees, Pines and Palmetas ; and on the boughs 
of other Trees are seen Munkies, Apes and Parrots ; and at further 
distance Vallies of Sugar-Canes. 

In connexion with the wood, which, it is plain to be seen, 
was expressed on the wings, an interesting point remains 
to be noted. Although a different scene was used for each 
entry, no scene being repeated, these tree wings remained 
stationary throughout. As the scenes, with one exception 
(that of the fifth entry "a dark prison at great distance"), 
are all exteriors, there was nothing seriously discordant 
about this arrangement. Proof of the permanence of the 
wings is afforded by the fact that at the end of each entry 
the dancers always come out from "opposite sides of the 
Wood." This statement is made even at the end of the scene 
representing the prison, with its racks and other engines 
of torment. Odd as it seems to us now, this system of the 
partial change was one of the several scenic systems then in 
vogue on the Continent, and it had already been followed 
in England in a few of the Caroline court masques and 
pastorals. 1 Among the designs by Inigo Jones preserved 
in the Lansdowne MSS. 2 in the British Museum is one 
inscribed : 

Ground platt of that kind of scene with triangular frames on the 
sides, when there is but one standing scene, and ye scene changes 
only at ye back shutters, as imparted for the scene for ye Pastorall 
of Florimen* in the hall at Whitehall in 1635. 

1 For indication of its popularity in France, circa 1 647, see Ludovic Celler, Let Decors, 
les Costumes, et la Mise en Scene au Dix-Septieme Steele, p. 71. 2 No. 1 171, design x. 

3 For which, see The Elizabethan Playhouse and other Studies (First Series), p. 136. 

136 The Origin of the English Picture-Stage 

Like all the scenic systems of the period, the principle of 
the partial change was Italian in origin. Some relics of its 
former employment are to be noted on the Post-Restoration 
stage. Thus, in Dryden's opera, Albion and Albanius (168 5), 
we have, near the close of Act i, the direction, "Part of 
the Scene disappears, and the Four Triumphal Arches, 
erected at his Majesty's Coronation, are seen." Again, at 
the beginning of Act ii, we read, "The Scene is a Poetical 
Hell. The Change is Total. The Upper Part of the House 
as well as the Side Scenes." This indicates that even then 
the wings were not always changed with the flats. 

Much that is here said about the mounting of The Cruelty 
of the Spaniards in Peru 1 applies to the History of Sir Francis 
Drake, as first given. One cannot be positive, however, that 
the wings were again stationary, although, as all the scenes 
were exteriors, mostly prospects of cities, permanent tree 
wings would have harmonized with one and all. The 
back scenes were again elaborately panoramic, with views 
of people, ships, mules coming down mountain passes and 
what not. 2 They were evidently flats, not drops, for in the 
middle of the fifth entry the scene "opened" and revealed 
"a beautiful Lady ty'd to a tree," doubtless a painting on 
another flat scene. 

In connexion with these Cockpit performances one other 
point remains to be noted. In his memoir of D'Avenant, 
Aubrey writes : 

Being freed from imprisonment, because plays (scil. trage, and 
comedies) were in those presbyterian times scandalous, he contrives 
to set up an opera stylo recitativo ; wherein Sergeant Maynard and' 
several citizens were engagers; it began at Rutland House in 
Charter House-yard ; next (scilicet anno . . . ) at the Cock Pitt 
in Drury Lane, where were acted very well, stylo recitativo, Sir 

1 Appended to the quarto of 1658 is the note, " Notwithstanding the great expense 
necessary to Scenes and other ornaments in this Entertainment, there is good provision 
made of places for a shilling." 

2 This type of scene persisted for some little time on the early picture-stage. In 
Settle's Empress of Morocco (1673), at tne beginning of Act ii. we read, "The scene 
opened is represented the prospect of a large river with a glorious fleet of ships, supposed 
to be the navy of Muly Hamet." See also the plate illustrating this scene in the original 
quarto (reproduced in CasseWs Library of English Literature, Vol. iii. " Plays," p. 327). 

The Origin of the English Picture-Stage 137 

Francis Drake's . . . and The Siege of Rhodes (1st and 2nd Part). 
It did effect the eie and eare extremely. This brought scenes in 
fashion in England; before at plays was only an hanging. 1 

Aubrey, who wrote circa 1680, frequently forgot names, 
dates and other necessary facts, and so was compelled by 
his indifferent memory, in Sterne's phrase, to hang out 
lights : hence the breaks in the above passage. Under the 
circumstances it is difficult to know how much reliance to 
place on his statements. But it is noteworthy that he speaks 
here of the Second Part of The Siege of Rhodes as having 
been produced at the Cockpit at this time. Hitherto it has 
been understood that the Second Part was not produced 
until shortly after the expanded First Part was revived 
at the Duke's Theatre in 1661, a belief strengthened by 
the fact that the earliest issue of the Second Part is dated 
1663. But it seems highly probable that the first draft 
of the Second Part was produced at the Cockpit in 1659, 
seeing that the First Part had been revived there, and 
that three operas (all we know of definitely) were scarcely 
enough to keep the theatre going from December until 

When the King came to his own, exactly a year after the 
close of D'Avenant's Cockpit venture, the long silenced 
players were too eager to begin acting to trouble much about 
the trappings of the stage. The first marked innovation was 
not the permanent adoption of scenery but the employment 
of actresses. One cannot say exactly when the first English 
actress appeared. It may be that Jordan's prologue, intro- 
ducing her as Desdemona, was spoken at Vere Street on 
8 December, 1660, when Othello was certainly acted there. 
But we have really no definite foothold until we read in 
Pepys' Diary of the performance of The Beggar s Bush at 
the same theatre on 3 January following : "it being very 
well done, and was the first time that 1 ever saw women 
come upon the stage." 2 It was not until almost six months 
later that scenery began to be regularly — but not even 

1 Aubrey's Brief Lives (edited by Andrew Clark, 1898), i. 208. 

2 Cf. Dutton Cook, A Book of the Play, Chap, xvi, "Her First Appearance." 

138 The Origin of the English Picture-Stage 

then universally — employed. Consequently, the story of 
the Restoration stage in the first twelve months of its 
record forms the closing chapter in the history of the old 

Such were the laxities of the times, and so eager were 
the players to renew activities that they did not even trouble 
in the beginning to get the necessary permission from the 
King or The Master of the Revels. Three of the old 
dismantled playhouses, The Red Bull, the Cockpit and 
Salisbury Court were hastily fitted up, and acting was 
resumed on the old, old lines. The story of the period is a 
very tangled skein, but an accurate summary of the main 
evolution of things is given in Wright's Historia Histrionica 
(1699), where Lovewit says : 

Yes ; presently after the restoration, the King's players acted 
publickly at the Red Bull for some time, and then removed to a 
new built playhouse in Vere Street, by Clare Market. There they 
continued for a year or two, and then removed to the Theatre Royal 
in Drury Lane, where they first made use of scenes, which had been 
a little before introduced upon the publick stage by Sir William 
D'Avenant, at the duke's old theatre in Lincoln's-inn-fields, but 
afterwards very much improved, with the addition of curious 
machines by Mr. Betterton at the New Theatre in Dorset Garden, 
to the great expense and continual charge of the players. 

Let it here be said with emphasis (for, thanks to the 
muddling of our historians, much confusion exists on the 
question of the introduction of scenery), that not the 
slip-htest flaw or defect is to be found after the minutest 
examination in the above statement. The picture-stage era 
undoubtedly began with the opening of the new Duke's 
Theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fie" is late in June, 1661, when 
The Siege of Rhodes was revived 1 Before that neither scenery 
nor opera had been seen upon the Restoration stage. 

In connexion with that statement 1 anticipate being asked 
a somewhat ugly question. On or about 8 November, 1660, 

1 For the date, see Robert W. Lowe, Tbomas Betterton, pp. 83-4. What a pity it 
is it can only be approximated ! The event was truly epoch-marking, more especially 
as, according to Uownes, the opening day was the first occasion on which Charles II 
visited a public theatre. 

The Origin of the English Picture-Stage 139 

the King's players removed from the old Red Bull, where 
they had been acting for at least three or four months, to 
a new playhouse constructed in Gibbons' tennis-court in 
Vere Street, near Lincoln's Inn Fields. Pepys, who visited 
the new house on 20 November to see Beggar s Bush, was 
highly taken with the acting, and adds, "indeed it is the 
finest playhouse, I believe, that ever was in England." Now, 
the question I anticipate is, why did Killigrew fit up this new 
theatre and remove the King's players there unless it was to 
have the advantages of scenery? The only answer 1 can give, 
lame enough in all conscience, is that Clerkenwell was some- 
what out of the way, and that a more central position was 
desirable. Remark that when D'Avenant built the Duke's 
he built it in the same locality. 

If one cannot be exactly sure what was Killigrew's aim in 
removing, one is at least able to say positively that from first 
to last scenery was never used at Vere Street. Apart from 
Wright's precise statement this can be shown by more closely 
related evidence. Let us look, for example, at Dryden's first 
play, The Wild Gallant^ which was originally produced at 
Vere Street on 5 February, 1 662-3. * The P^ a 7 was .not 
printed until 1 669, some two years after its revival in altered 
form, and with a new prologue, at Drury Lane ; but even at 
this date it presents a sufficiency of evidence to show that its 
original production took place in a theatre of the platform- 
stage order. In the earlier prologue the speaker enters and 
tells the audience the poet had bidden him go and consult 
the astrologers as to the probable luck of his play. Then 
we have the direction, "The Curtain drawn discovers two 
Astrologers; the Prologue is presented to them." A brief 
conversation between the three follows, in which the astro- 
logers shirk the issue, and the Prologue, having finally 
addressed the house, bespeaking its good will, the play 
begins. Now, whereas this prologue is not at all of the 
Restoration picture-stage class, it is somewhat in the old 
platform-stage manner, and practically implies the use of 
the traverses and rear-stage. If we seek for precedent we 

1 Cf. Evelyn's Diary under that date, and Pepys under 23 February, 1663. 

140 The Origin of the English Picture-Stage 

shall find it in Doctor Faustus and The Merry Devill of 
Edmonton. In the former, Chorus delivers the prologue, 
and on coming to the words, "and this the man that in his 
study sits," rapidly draws the traverses. In the latter, the 
Prologue pulls aside the curtains and reveals Faber. 

As there are indications of changes of scenery in The Wild 
Gallant quarto of 1669, the text undoubtedly represents the 
revised and altered play as acted at Drury Lane. But it 
presents at least two indications of the nature of the stage 
on which it was originally acted. In Elizabethan days it 
was customary for eavesdroppers to enter, not by the usual 
doors, but on to the rear-stage, where they peeped through 
the curtains, taking care to show themselves to the audience. 
But they did not formally "enter" until they came forward. 1 
This is exactly paralleled in Act iv, Scene 1, of Dryden's 
play. The scene is a room, "a table set, with Cards upon 
it." Trice, all alone, proceeds to play an imaginary game of 
Piquet with Loveby — and loses money to him. While he is 
so engaged, " enter Loveby behind." He listens, and when 
Trice whimsically begins to abuse him for winning his 
money, comes forward. The direction is, "Loveby enters." 
Now, although the conventionalism of entering behind to 
listen was followed on the early picture-stage, 2 the character 
on that stage only made one formal "entry", as there were 
no traverses to hide behind. He simply stood at the back. 
The other characters had entered through the proscenium 
doors and stood on the apron well to the front. 

It seems to me, furthermore, that the following colloquy 
in the fourth act owed its origin to the fact that the Vere 
Street theatre stage, like all the platform-stages, was adorned 
with tapestries. 

Enter Constance, as with Child. 

Nonsuch. Now Gentlewoman! is this possible? 
Const. I do not reach your Meaning, Sir. 

1 For examples see A Midsummer Night's Dream, Q i and 2, Act iv. I, where 
Oberon listens ; Cymbeline, Act v ; The Fatal Dowry, iii. i ; The Dutchess of Malf, 
iii. 2. Cf. The Elizabethan Playhouse and other Studies (First Series), pp. 17 1-2. 

2 See The Squire of Alsatia, iii, "Enter Ruth behind them" 5 All for Love, iv. 1 ; 
The Country Wit, ii. 1. 


BRIDGES STREET, 16-4. v Tn '/• „ 

/n 1 1. ■ . l-loface p. 140. 

(Prologue, showing view of the Thames at back). 

The Origin of the English Picture-Stage 141 

Non. Where have you been of late ? 

Const. I seldom stir without you, Sir ; These Walls most com- 
monly confine me. 

Non. These Walls can get no Children; nor these Hangings; 
though there be Men wrought in 'em. 

Isa. Yet by your Favour, Nuncle, Children may be wrought 
behind the Hangings. 

Pepys records many visits to Vere Street from its opening 
to its close, but in none of his entries does he make any 
mention of scenery. If he had seen plays mounted there 
in the new fashion, why should he have jotted down on 
7 May, 1663, when the Vere Street company opened at 
Drury Lane, "this day the new Theatre Royal begins to 
act with scenes, The Humourous Lieutenant, but I have 
not time to see it." There can only be one meaning to 
that sentence, and that Wright has already yielded us. 

Outside Italy the science of theatre-building at this period 
was ill-considered. In England the logical progression 
shouldjiavebeen^from the hexagon or circle of the Eliza- 
bethan pubTictEeatres to the semi-circle, or horse-shoe shape, 
of the picture-stage. Unfortunately, when the first Restora- 
tion theatres came to be built, French example intervened. 
In Paris, from 1 620 onwards, most of the troupes had been 
installed in playhouses fitted up in tennis-courts. 1 This was 
false economy, for a long narrow building such as a tennis- 
court was ill-adapted, in point of both sight and hearing, for 
dramatic performances. At the Restoration the English idea 
was to unite the principle of the French tennis-court play- 
house to the seating disposition of the old private theatres, 
an unhappy amalgam. Whereas the existing French theatres 
had, and (with one exception) long continued to have, a 
standing pit, the Restoration pit was seated. French travel- 
lers, such as Sorbieres 2 and Balthasar de Monconys, who 
both visited London in 1 663, emphasize this fact. In a note 
on Drury Lane, made on 22 May, 1663, shortly after its 
first opening, Monconys writes, " Tous les bancs du parterre 

1 For full details see Germain Bapst, Essai sur UHistoire du Theatre, pp. 167-71. 
See also p. 183 for view of the theatre du Marais. 

2 Relation d'un voyage en Angleterre^ etc. (1664), p. 166. 

142 The Origin of the English Picture-Stage 

ou toutes les personnes de condition se mettent aussi, sont 
rangez en amphitheatre, les uns plus hauts que les autres." l 
Thus in France the pit was the worst part of the house, in 
England the best. Thirty-five years later Misson records : 

There are two theatres at London 2 one large and handsome, 
where they sometimes act operas, and sometimes Plays : the other 
something smaller, which is only for plays. The Pit is an 
Amphitheatre fill'd with Benches without Back-boards, and 
adorn'd and covered with green cloth. Men of quality, particularly 
the younger sort, some Ladies of Reputation and Virtue, and 
abundance of Damsels that hunt for Prey, sit all together in this 
Place, Higgledy-piggledy, chatter, toy, play, hear, hear not ; farther 
up, against the wall, under the first Gallery, and just opposite to 
the stage, rises another Amphitheatre, which is taken up by persons 
of the best Quality, among whom are generally very few men. 
The Galleries, whereof there only two Rows, are fill'd with none 
but ordinary people, particularly the upper one. 3 

The earliest and, for long, sole exception in France to 
the principle of the standing pit occurred in the first Paris 
Opera-house, as constructed in a tennis-court in the rue de 
Vaugirard in 1 67 1 . Seeing that this house had a seated pit, 
arranged amphitheatrically, one is inclined to think that a 
hint had been taken from the Restoration theatres. 4 

In the later private theatres of the platform-stage type 
the amphitheatrical pit was a logical development from 
the unseated yard of the public theatres. We who are 
accustomed to a pit extending beneath the dress circle must 
bear in mind that in the Elizabethan public theatres the yard 
was strictly circumscribed in its limits by the lowermost 
gallery. This can be clearly deduced from the Fortune 

1 Journal des Voyages de Monsieur de Monconys (Lyon, 1666), Pt. ii. p. 25. 

2 The Queen's (formerly the Duke's in Dorset Gardens) and Drury Lane. The 
Queen's was the operatic house. 

3 Misson, Memoires et observations faites par un voyageur en Angleterre, The Hague, 
1698 (cited from English translation of 1719). I drag in this interesting quotation, 
tji et armisy because the reference to the benches of the pit being covered with green 
cloth proves my contention in The Elizabethan Playhouse and other Studies (First Series), 
p. 188, a contention which has been vigorously disputed by Mr. Hamilton Bell in his 
thoughtful article on "The Playhouse in the days of Shakespeare and Elizabeth," in 
The Ne-zv Tork Times, of 1 3 October, 191 2. 

4 For details, plans, etc., see Ch. Nuitter et E. Thoinan, Les Origines de L'Ope'ra 
Francais } Chap, vi, passim. 

7 he Origin of the English Picture-Stage 143 

building contract and the Dutch sketch of the Swan. At the 
Fortune the stage was "to be paled in belowe with good 
stronge and sufficyent newe oken boardes, and likewise the 
lower storie of the said frame withinside, and the same 
lower storie to be alsoe laide over and fenced with strong; 
yron pykes. 

Cockpits were usually arranged amphitheatrically, and the 
first amphitheatrical pit may have come in with the trans- 
formation of the Cockpit in Drury Lane into a playhouse. 
We seem to have some evidence of the disposition in the 
direction on Shirley's masque. The, Triumph of Peace, "The 
scene is changed and the Masquers appear sitting on the 
ascent of a hill, cut out like the degrees of a theatre." All 
we know definitely, however, is that the amphitheatrical pit 
existed at the Restoration. One result of the arrangement 


was that the last row of the gradually ascending pit was only 
a few feet below the ledge of the boxes. This explains what 
to the latter-day mind proves a puzzling passage in Dennis's 
account of Wycherley's intrigue with the Duchess of Cleve- 
land. " She was that Night," he writes, "in the first Row of 
the King's Box in Drury Lane, and Mr Wycherley in the 
Pit under her, where he entertain'd her during the whole 
Play." 1 It also explains that announcement so frequently 
made in connexion with benefit nights in the eighteenth 
century, when admission to the pit was charged at box rates, 
"Pit and Boxes laid together." 2 All these matters will be 
the more readily comprehended after a careful scrutiny of 
the accompanying view of the interior of the old Hay- 
market, originally published in Gilliland's Dramatic Mirror 
in 1808. 

If the physical limitations of the Vere Street theatre 
formed the only reason for Killigrew's non-employment 

1 This means that Wycherley was in the back row of the pit, for the King's Box 
(following the continental method) was then in the middle of the first circle. Cf. Genest, 
Some Account of the English Stage, i. 473. 

2 Lowe {Thomas Better ton, p. 34) appositely cites a passage from one of Congreve's 
letters describing a fashionable gathering at the Queen's in Dorset Gardens : — "The 
boxes and pit were all thrown into one, so that all sat in common ; and the whole was 
crammed with beauties and beaux." Are we to assurjje from this that on such occasions 
all barriers were removed ? 

144 ^e Origin of the English Picture-Stage 

of scenery before the opening of Drury Lane, it is curious 
that D'Avenant when he came to create the English picture- 
stage should have pitched on another tennis-court, 1 not a 
hundred yards away, wherein to build his theatre. But it 
may be that lack of means compelled him to content himself 
with a ready-made shell, despite its inconveniences ; and one 
indeed finds a half hint to that effect in his prologue to the 
Second Part of Tbe Siege of Rhodes, as spoken at the new 
theatre shortly after its opening : 2 

But many trav'lers here as Judges come, 
From Paris, Florence, Venice, and from Rome, 
Who will describe, when any scene we draw, 
By each of ours, all that they ever saw. 
Those praising for extensive breadth and height, 
And inward distance to deceive the sight. 
When greater objects, moving in broad space, 
You rank with lesser, in this narrow place, 
Then we like Chessmen on a Chess-board are, 
And seem to play like Pawns the Rhodian Warr. 
Oh money ! money ! If the Wits would dress, 
With ornaments, the present face of Peace ; 
And to our Poet half that treasure spare, 
Which Faction gets from Fools to nourish war; 
Then his contracted Scenes should wider be, 
And move by greater Engines, till you see 
(Whilst you securely sit) fierce armies meet, 
And raging Seas disperse a fighting Fleet. 

Pepys, like a child with a new toy, was all excitement 
over D'Avenant's innovation, and of The Wits, the first 
play to be adorned with scenery on the public stage, had 
perforce to record, "and indeed it is a most excellent play 
and admirable scenes." Of Hamlet, the first Shakespearean 

1 Lisle's, extending from the back of Portugal Row, on the south side of Lincoln's 
Inn Fields, to Portugal Street. When the house was abandoned by the players in 1674 
it was, on Aubrey's showing, reconverted into a tennis court. Betterton and his fellows 
turned it again into an indifferent playhouse in 1695, but were glad to leave it in 1705. 
Subsequently it was rebuilt by Rich, and opened in 17 14. Cf. Lowe's Thomas Betterton^ 
p. 148. 

2 Vide ante p. 137. If an earlier performance of the Second Part could be established, 
this ascription might reasonably be disputed. 

The Origin of the English Picture-Stage 145 

play to be given on the picture-stage, his opinion was, "done 
with scenes very well." But all was not well with the new 
theatre, and two months later, on 21 October, 1661, we 
find him writing: : 

To the Opera, which is now newly begun to act again, after 
some alteration of their scene, which do make it very much worse ; 
but the play Love and Honour, being the first time of their acting 
it is a very good plot, and well done. 

Doubtless Drury Lane (otherwise the Theatre Royal, 
Bridges Street) was a considerable improvement on the 
Duke's, more particularly as it was a specially built theatre, 
not simply a theatre rigged up in a tennis-court. Monconys, 
who visited it on 22 May, 1663, shortly after its opening, 
recorded, "les changemens de Theatre et les machines sont 
fort ingenieusement inventees et executees." But for the 
matter of that, he was equally well pleased with the scenic 
effects at the Duke's, " ou les changemens de scene me 
plurent beaucoup." Considering that the initial advan- 
tages lay with Drury Lane, it was not so superior as might 
have been expected. During the period in 1665-6 when 
the theatres were closed through the Plague, occasion was 
taken to make material alteration of that house. On 1 9 
March, 1 665-6, Pepys records, "after dinner we walked to 
the King's playhouse, all in dirt, they being altering of the 
stage to make it wider. But God knows when they will 
begin to act again." It was really not until the opening of the 
Duke's Theatre in Dorset Gardens in 1671 that England 
could be said to possess an adequate house of the new order, 
one in which both actor and machinist had elbow-room. In 
the second Duke's D'Avenant made amends for the short- 
comings of the first, although he did not live to see it 
launched into success. 

The English picture-stage of the seventeenth and eigh- 
teenth centuries owed its distinctiveness to the concessions 
which had to be made in the beginning to the usages and 
prejudices of players habituated to the methods of the 
platform-stage. As created by D'Avenant it was a happy 
amalgam of the prime characteristics of the platform-stage 


146 The Origin of the English 'Picture-Stage 

and the masque-stage of the Caroline period. Permanent 
entering doors and balconies the players still required to 
have, but as the tiring-house disappeared with the introduc- 
tion of scenery, the doors and balconies had to be brought 
to the front and placed on either side of the proscenium 
arch. 1 The apron, so long a characteristic of our theatres, 
was apparently born of the physical limitations of the 
Duke's Theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields. In a long, narrow 
house, where many of the audience were situated remote 
from the players, it was necessary that the stage should jut 
out as far as possible, so that the players might come well 
to the front to make themselves heard. At a slightly later 
period a similar apron had to be introduced into the Italian 
opera houses for an almost identical reason. On the subject 
Algarotti writes : 

As most people are captivated with what appears grand and 
magnificent, some were induced to resolve on having a theatre 
built of an excessive extent, and out of all reason, where, however, 
they should hear commodiously ; which to effect, they made the 
stage whereon the actors perform, to be advanced into the parterre 
several feet ; by that expedient, the actors were brought forward 
into the middle of the audience, and there was no danger then of 
their not being heard. But such a contrivance can only please 
those, who are very easily to be satisfied. For who that reflects, does 
not see that such a proceeding is subversive of all good order and 
prudent regulation? 2 

The actors, instead of being so brought forward, ought to be 
thrown back at a certain distance from the spectator's eye, and 
stand within the scenery of the stage, in order to make a part of 
that pleasing illusion for which all dramatic exhibitions are calcu- 
lated. But by such a preposterous inversion of things, the very 
intent of theatric representation is destroyed ; and the proposed 
effect defeated, by thus detaching actors from the precincts of the 
decoration, and dragging them forth from the scenes into the midst 
of the parterre; which cannot be done by them without shewing 
their sides, or turning their shoulders to a great part of the audience, 

1 See my paper on "Proscenium Doors: an Elizabethan Heritage," in The 
Elizabethan Playhouse and other Studies (First Series). 

2 Colley Cibber, writing from the actor's standpoint, thought otherwise. See the 
extract from his Apology, cited at pp. 165-6 of the First Series of these Studies. 








The Origin of the English Picture-Stage 147 

besides many other inconveniencies ; so that was conceived would 
prove a remedy, became a very great evil. 1 

I have quoted Algarotti at some length because his 
reflections tend to show that where the players or singers 
of old, either for the purpose of being better heard or, in an 
ill-lit theatre, of being better seen, confined their acting to 
the forepart of the stage, the effect of the mounting must 
have been decorative rather than realistic. 1 Since acting on 
the Restoration Stage was still largely an art of rhetoric, 
probably this was all that D'Avenant and Killigrew aimed 
at. To admit this is to expose the fallaciousness of the 
time-honoured contention that the introduction of scenery 
spelled the downfall of poetic drama. Scholars have allowed 
themselves to be deceived by a synchronization of events 
in no wise inter-related. The truth is that the great seventh 
wave of Elizabethan poetico-dramatic impulse had reached 
high water mark considerably before the Civil War and the 
disruption of the theatres. With Shirley, the tide had begun 
to ebb. 

1 Count Algarotti, An Essay on the Opera (London, 1767), pp. 96-7. 

2 For ocular demonstration of this, see the accompanying plate of " Fitzgiggo : a 
new English Uproar," taken from a rare broadside issued in connexion with a riot at 
Covent Garden in 1763. 

The Persistence of Elizabethan 

The Persistence of Elizabethan 

Unsatisfactory as must necessarily be all attempts at 
terse generalization, one may venture the opinion that the 
difference between the dramaturgy inspired by the platform- 
stage and the dramaturgy inspired by the picture-stage is, 
broadly speaking, the difference between the ill-made and 
the well-made play. It was not until the oppressive luxuries 
of scenery began to curb poetic imagination that the science 
of dramatic construction came to be thoroughly considered. 
In following this line of argument one champions the cause 
of that " mechanical school of critics " which has been derided 
for seeking in the physical conditions of the Elizabethan 
playhouse some clue to the characteristics of Shakespeare 
the dramatist. " For the reader who runs while he reads ", 
we have been told, " it is a simple and obvious solution of 
many difficulties ; as simple and obvious as would be the 
explanation of the form of a snail by the shape of its shell." 1 
Here the analogy is so absurd that it maybe readily confuted. 
For example, dramatic climax as we now know it is mainly 
the outcome of the tableau ending, just as the tableau ending 
was itself due to the introduction and growing frequency 
of employment 2 of the front curtain. Find a type of national 
theatre with an unenclosed stage, and, whether it be in the 
Athens of Sophocles' age or the London of Shakespeare's, 
you may assume its drama to be essentially anti-climactic. 
So far from ending abruptly on the topmost note of high 
emotional stress, Elizabethan tragedy draws to a close in a 
diminuendo of philosophic calm. In the absence of a front 
curtain the dead bodies had to be borne off with solemn 

1 Edinburgh Review, Vol. ccvii, 1908, p. 4.21, article on "Mr. Hardy's Dynasts." 

2 i.e., between the acts. It is doubtful whether the custom of the curtain falling 
regularly between the acts came into vogue until the eighteenth century. This point 
will be discussed later. 

152 The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms 

In the Pre-Restoration epoch, when the plastic platform- 
stage set no limits to the dramatist's concepts and the public 
brought to the theatre a ready, and, in a sense, trained 
imagination, the dramatist was more concerned with poetry 
than stage architectonics. Unhampered by accessories, he 
was at liberty to construct his play much as he pleased, 
without pausing to consider whether any particular act had 
exceeded a maximum number of scenes, or troubling to see 
that the act itself concluded with a well worked up picture- 
poster situation. There was little symmetry of outline but 
much beauty of ornament. Technically speaking, the play 
was not so much the thing as the story : that had to be told 
in full with all circumstantiality. Where the theme was 
already popular there could be even some looking before 
and after. The picture, not yet framed, ran off into space. 
If an old wives' tale had to be told in terms of the theatre, 
an old wife had to be introduced as if relating it. Whistler's 
mot "why drag in Velasquez ?" might well be parodied by 
the latter-day technique-ridden playwright in asking "why 
drag in Christopher Sly ?" Certainly, to say the least, the 
acting merits of The Taming of the Shrew are not improved 
by his presence. 

The transition from the ill-made play to the well-made 
play, from the composite play of slow impulsion and abound- 
ing anti-climax to the unified play of strictly sequential 
interest and marked rhythmic progression, neither followed 
quickly upon the advent of the picture-stage nor came at 
long last with startling abruptness. So tardy and insensible 
was the change that to indicate clearly how it was brought 
about would demand an elaborate disquisition. To some 
extent it will suffice now to say that opposing forces had to 
fight out the battle. Scenery as it developed and became 
systematized had the tendency, both by dint of its limitations 
and its elaboration, to simplify the action. The whole trend 
of technical progress was towards the firm establishment 
of the principle of one act, one scene. For this reason, 
the evolution of stage mounting ran counter to the preserva- 
tion of all complexities pertaining to the nature of duality 

The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms 153 

of plot. But a predilection for Tragi-comedy, with its 
alternations of laughter and tears, had almost become part 
and parcel of the English playgoing temperament; with the 
result that we find the genre pursuing as vigorous an exis- 
tence in Dryden's later day as in Beaumont and Fletcher's 

On the early picture-stage the persistence of the ill-made 
play and of the conventions associated with it was due to 
a variety of causes. The composite nature of this new 
stage, with certain features permanent and traditional and 
other features innovative, mobile, adaptive, lent itself 
readily to this prolongation. Players, too, are notoriously 
conservative, and one must recall that not only the old actors 
but the new actresses had been trained in the platform-stage 
routine. Moreover, for some years the old Elizabethan 
drama continued to form the staple repertory of the theatres, 
one material result of which was that the primitive scenic 
system, instead of developing along its own plane, had to 
conform to the necessities. Possibly for the reason that 
the theatre was then closely associated with the Court, the 
Restoration dramatist was more of the type of courtier-poet 
than actor-playwright, and his interest lay anywhere but in 
matters of technique. Except when French influence formed 
a disturbing factor, he wrote. his play largely on the old 
models, as if the plastic stage of yore was still in existence. 
The use of scenery as a grateful but subsidiary adjunct he 
did not understand. The question of stage mounting was 
either considered by him not at all or much too curiously. 
It was perhaps inevitable, although certainly unfortunate, 
that scenery should have been looked upon in the beginning 
simply as show, a pretty gewgaw to be exploited purely for 
its own sake. The result was the upspringing of an abnormal 
but happily short-lived type of play which masqueraded as 
comedy, but was nothing better than an unmeaning hotch- 
potch of pastoral, masque and opera. The exemplar was 
The Slighted Maid of Robert Stapylton, originally produced 
at the Duke's Theatre, Lincoln's Inn Fields, in February, 
1662-3. As the novelty wore off these abuses corrected 

1 54 The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms 

themselves, but meanwhile a hankering had been created 
for show which grew by what it fed on, and has never since 
been wholly appeased. It is surprising to find that even 
under these conditions of unstable equilibrium many of 
the old platform-stage conventions still maintained their 
sway in the theatre. The persistence of some of them has 
already been demonstrated, 1 but several others demand full 

As the overture precedes the play, so we may begin 
by discussing music and musicians. Revelation of an 
interesting matter comes to us from Samuel de Sorbieres, 
who visited London in 1663, and from Count Magalotti, 
who came to England early in 1669 as one of the suite of 
Cosmo III, Grand Duke of Tuscany. Both give some 
account of the Restoration playhouses and agree on one 
particular point. "The Musick with which you are enter- 
tained," we learn from Sorbieres, " diverts your time till the 
Play begins, and People chuse to go in betimes to hear it." 2 
Writing of his experience six years later, Magolotti records, 
"before the comedy begins, that the audience may not be 
tired with waiting, the most delightful symphonies are 
played ; on which account many persons come early to 
enjoy this agreeable amusement." 3 There was, of course, 
another reason why people should go betimes to the theatre, 
besides the enjoyment to be obtained from listening to 
beautiful music. This was the desire to secure good seats. 
We must recall that in 1669 it was customary on the first 
days of a new play to open the doors at noon, although the 
performance never commenced before three 4 ; and as at 
that period the custom of sending footmen to secure places 
had not been introduced, playgoers had to go early and 
take bodily possession of their seats. Probably on normal 
occasions the doors were not opened quite so early, say 

1 Sec the paper on "Proscenium Doors : an Elizabethan Heritage," in the First 
Series of these Studies. 

2 A Voyage to England (1709), p. 69. 

3 Travels of Cosmo III, Grand Duke of Tuscany, through England during the Reign of 
Charles II, 1669 (London, 1821), p. 347. 

4 See Pepys' Diary, 2 and 18 May, 1668, and 25 Feb., 1668-9. For tne hour of 
commencing, see Lowe's Thomas Betterton, pp. 15-6. 

The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms 155 

about one o'clock. There are good reasons for believing 
that this early opening and the long musical prelude were 
inheritances from the old private theatres. When Philipp 
Julius, Duke of Stetten-Pomerania, visited the Black- 
friars in September, 1602, he found that "for a whole hour 
preceding the play" a delightful musical entertainment was 
given. 1 But before one can accept the Blackfriars practice 
as the prototype of the Restoration custom another point 
has to be determined. We know for certain that in the last 
quarter of the seventeenth century the preliminary music 
was divided into three parts, known distinctively as First, 
Second and Third Music. 2 The Third Music was also 
known as "the Curtain Tune", from the circumstance that 
it heralded the rising of the curtain. 3 When we come to 
seek indications of these three divisions in the old private 
theatres all resources fail. True, we have Crites' simile, 4 
"like an unperfect prologue at third music," but the refer- 
ence seems rather to be to the third trumpet blast which 
invariably heralded the Prologue's coming. ° One, indeed, 
would be disposed to look upon the principle of the three 
divisions as a Restoration innovation were it not for one 
significant circumstance. Shirley's masque, Cupid and Death, 
originally performed in 1653, was revived in 1659 at the 
military grounds in Leicester Fields, when the music was 
provided by Matthew Lock and Christopher Gibbons. The 
overture was then arranged in three parts, the last called 
"the Curtain aire". 6 The conclusion derivable from this 
is that the principle of the three divisions was a convention 
of early Italian opera, and was first adopted in England in 
connexion with the Court Masques of, say, the early Caroline 
period. Since the custom of giving a long musical prelude 
had then been many years in vogue at the private theatres, 
it is conceivable that about 1630 the principle of the three 

1 Cf. C.W.Wallace, The Children of the Chapel at Blackfriars, 1597— 1603, pp. 105-7. 

2 Cf. The Elizabethan Playhouse and other Studies (First Series), pp. 197 and 198 2 . 

3 Thus in the play-house scene in Shadwell's A True Widoiv (1679), we have the 
direction, "They play the curtain-tune, then all take their places." In most copies 
this is mis-printed "curtain-time". 4 Cynthia's Revels (Blackfriars, 1600), iii. 2. 

5 Note that in Ben Jonson's plays the Induction begins after the second sounding 
and the Prologue enters after the third. 6 Oxford History of Music, Vol. iii. 213-4. 

156 The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms 

divisions was applied to it. As there was no front curtain 
in the platform-stage theatres, "the Curtain Tune" would 
then be known as "Third Music". Note that whereas the 
term " Curtain Tune" disappeared at the close of the seven- 
teenth century, the term " Third Music " lasted for close on 
another hundred years. If we cannot concede a private- 
theatre archetype for the three divisions we are compelled 
to fall back on the theory that the principle was derived 
from the later Caroline masques and first introduced into 
the theatres in the D'Avenant operas. That the masque had 
some influence of the sort is shown by the survival of the 
term " Curtain Tune." But why should there have been an 
alternative and more popularly accepted phrase ? Restoration 
opera had marked conventions of its own, such, for example, 
as the secondary, emblematic proscenium, 1 and a regular 
operatic custom does not necessarily become a normal 

Something remains to be said as to the remarkable 
longevity of the system of First, Second and Third Music. 
Our first definite trace of it in the English theatre occurs in 

1 674, when Lock wrote the preliminary and interact music 
for Shadwell's opera of The Tempest. This was published in 

1675, together with Lock's music for Psyche. The First 
Music consisted of an Introduction, followed by a Galliard 
and a Gavotte ; the Second Music of a Saraband and a Lilk; 
and the Curtain Tune (which was really the overture), 
of descriptive music indicating a storm. Obviously, on 
ordinary dramatic occasions, the Third Music would seldom 
be so closely related to what was to follow. Here we have 
indicated a distinction of method. 

The custom soon passed over to Dublin, where we find 
it flourishing in the middle of the eighteenth century. On 
3 October, 1748, when the Smock Alley Theatre opened 
for the winter season with As Ton Like It y it was advertised 
that the First Music would play at 5.30 p.m. ; the Second 
at six o'clock ; and the Third at half-past six ; after which 
the curtain was to rise. When Coriolanus was given at the 

1 For which see the First Series of these Studies, p. 198. 

The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms 157 

same house on 7 May, 1752, the advertisement concluded 
with : "N.B. By command the Play will not begin till half 
an hour after seven, the first Musick at half an hour after 
six." Meanwhile the custom still remained in vogue in 
London, where it would appear that at Drury Lane, about 
1740, the Second Music was generally the best selection. 
Adroit people could hear this gratis, as money was returned 
to those who went out immediately before the rising of the 
curtain. l In an account given of the riot at Garrick's theatre 
on 25 January, 1763, over the question of Half Price we 
read that "at night, when the third musick began at Drury 
Lane, the audience insisted on Britons strike Home and The 
Roast Beef of Old England, which were played accordingly." 2 
After which the row started. I have cited this passage 
mainly to draw attention to the recognized custom of calling 
for tunes, about which something will shortly be said. In 
concluding my brief history of the rise and progress of the 
First, Second and Third Musick, it may be pointed out that 
the practice was maintained at least until the dawn of the 
nineteenth century. At that period English opera continued 
to be written with the tripartite prelude. 3 In 1784 Drury 
Lane opened its doors at a quarter past five, exactly an hour 
before the performance. The longevity of First, Second 
and Third Music is indicated in some lines written by John 
O'Keeffe, the dramatist, to Wilde, the Covent Garden 
prompter, about 1798 : — 

Thro' dressing rooms is heard the warning call, 
"First music, gentlemen ; first music, ladies"; 
"Third music !" that's the notice to appal. 4 

In the majority of cases the old conventionalisms that 
survived were conventionalisms associated with the later 
private theatres, not those distinctively of the public thea- 
tres, although a few carried over were common to both. 
Our only trace of the custom of calling for tunes in Pre- 

1 Vide ante p. no, extract from Theophilus Cibber. 

2 Gent's Magazine (1763), p. 32. 

3 I have in my possession a copy of Shields' overture to the Covent Garden opera 
of Rosina (1783), as reprinted at Dublin by Hime, circa 1790. It is arranged in three 
movements with changes of tempo. 4 0'K.eeffe's Recollections, ii. 422, app. 

158 The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms 

Restoration times is at the Blackfriars in 1634. 1 No clue 
to the continuance of this free and easy habit presents itself 
in the latter half of the century, but later evidence clearly 
shows that it must have been practised at that period. In a 
satire on the fops of the time and their conduct in the theatre, 
written as if by one of the brotherhood, and published in 
The Universal Spectator of 1 1 June, 1 743/ the writer boasts 
of being the first to call for "The Black Joke," and glories 
in the fact that the musicians were compelled to come out 
and play it. Many absurd concessions had to be made in 
those days for the sake of peace and quiet. This especially 
applies to Ireland, where the recognized custom of calling for 
tunes frequently occasioned riot and disorder through the 
demand for party tunes. In January, 1 806, Thos. Ludford 
Bellamy, the new Belfast manager, found it requisite to 
advertise that C£ to prevent any unpleasant consequences 
which may arise from Airs being called for not advertised 
in the Bills, Mr. Bellamy deems it necessary to inform the 
Public that God Save the King will be performed by the Band 
at the end of the fourth act of the Play, Patrick's Day prior 
to the farce, and Rule Brittania between the 1 stand 2nd Acts, 
and on no account whatever will they be played at any other 
period of the evening." In Dublin relics of the custom 
lingered for another forty years. 3 But for the firmness 
of Calcraft, the Hawkins Street lessee, at one particular 
crisis, it might still be pursuing a vigorous existence there. 
Eighteenth-century emigrants had carried the seeds of the 
custom to America, where they found congenial soil and 
germinated with rapidity. Writing of the New York Theatre 
in 1803, Washington Irving, under the pen-name of 
Jonathan Oldstyle, says : 

I observed that every part of the house has its different depart- 
ment. The good folks of the gallery have all the trouble of ordering 
the music (their directions, however, are not more frequently 
followed than they deserve). The mode by which they issue their 

1 See the First Series of these Studies, p. 88, under " Whitelocke's Coranto." 

2 Reprinted in part in The London Magazine (1743), p- 296. 

3 Cf. Dublin University Magazine, Vol. lxxiii, 1869, p. 441, J. W. Calcraft's 
unsigned article on "The Theatre Royal, Dublin, from 1845 to 185 1." 

The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms 159 

mandates is stamping, hissing, roaring, whistling, and, when the 
musicians are refractory, groaning in cadence. They also have the 
privilege of demanding a bow from John (by which name they 
designate every servant at the theatre who enters to move a table 
or snuff a candle) ; and of detecting those cunning dogs who peep 
from behind the curtain. x 

One marked difference between the theatrical routine of 
the seventeenth century and the routine of to-day is due to 
specialization of function. The vocations of player and 
musician are no longer confused. Nowadays, when a song 
in a play has to be accompanied or incidental music rendered, 
the musicians fulfil their duties in the orchestra. Far other- 
wise, and better, was the Elizabethan custom. In Shake- 
speare's time, when songs 2 were rendered on the outer stage, 
or dances 3 given, the musicians usually came on to play. 
In most cases they were integral factors of the scene, and 
generally spoke a few words in character during the action. 4 
On the other hand, where languishing, music was utilized 
to heighten the emotional stress of a scene, the effect was 
usually accentuated by not making its source apparent. 5 

This confusion of the vocations of player and musician, 
or, in other words, the remarkable frequency with which 
the musicians, both in their own character and as ordinary 
supernumeraries, 6 were pressed into the service of the scene, 
was largely due to the circumstance that the music room 
was in stage regions and of ready access. This being so, 
one would naturally expect to find that all the musicaland 
other conventions to which the arrangement gave rise 
would disappear when the platform-stage was superseded. 
Whether their normal position in the early picture-stage 

1 Cited in Dunlap's History of the American Theatre (1833), ii. 176. 

2 Cymbeline, ii. 2; John a Kent and John a Cumber (1595), where Shrimp sings; 
The Duke of Milan, ii. 1. 

3 Orlando Furioso (1593), Dance of Satyrs ; Lust's Dominion, iii. 2 ; Love's Labour's 
Lost, v. 2 ; Hyde Park, iv. 3. Sometimes singers and dancers were their own accom- 
panyists, as in Timon of Athens, Act i ; The Tempest, iii. 2 ; Midas, iv. 1 ; and The 
Poetaster, iv. 2. 

4 Romeo and Juliet, iv. 5 ; Every Ma r n out of bis Humour, iv. I ; Northward Ho ! 
iv. 3 ; Westward Ho ! v. 3 ; Othello, iii. 1. 

5 Alphonsus,KingofArragon, iii. 2 ; Antony and Cleopatra, iv. 2 (" Musicke of the 
Hoboyes as under the Stage ") ; The Ttvo Noble Kinsmen, v. i ; The Lady of Pleasure, iv. I. 

6 Cf. The Elizabethan Playhouse and other Studies (First Series), p. 90. 

1 60 The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms 

theatres was in a music loft above the proscenium or in an 
enclosure in front of the stage, 1 the musicians were equally- 
remote from the players. Strange to say, however, this 
material change caused no serious interruption of the old 
conventions. The music loft and the orchestra were simply 
used during the playing of the preliminary music and of 
the inter-act tunes. One refers here, of course, to ordinary 
performances, not to those special occasions when opera was 

Abundant textual evidence exists to show that from the 
earliest days of the picture-stage until at least the opening 
years of the eighteenth century, the musicians continued 
to come on the stage when incidental song and dance 
were given, and sometimes to lend illusion to the scene by 
forwarding the action. We have an example of the fulfil- 
ment of this latter duty in Dryden's An Evenings Love; or 
The Mock Astrologer, as produced at the Theatre Royal on 
18 June, 1668. In the serenade scene in Act ii, Scene 1, 
the musicians accompanying the rival lovers engage in 
the quarrel of their employers and fall to fisticuffs. In 
Otway 's Friendship in Fashion, originally performed at Dorset 
Gardens in 1677, the fiddlers are constant in their attend- 
ance on Lady Squeamish and her rabble rout. In Lord 
Lansdowne's The She Gallants, as produced in Lincoln's 
Inn Fields late in 1695, the musicians come on in Act iv, 
Scene 1 , to accompany the song, "While Phillis is drinking", 
and at the close of the scene, when all are about to depart 
to a tavern, they strike up and march off playing. In the 
opening scene of Mrs. Centlivre's The Beau s Duel; or a 
Soldier for the Ladies (1702), the fiddlers evidently enter for 
the serenade when addressed by Sir William Mode, but no 
stage-direction occurs to that effect. At the close of the 
scene he says, " here music, strike up a merry ramble and 
lead to my Lodgings." As with song, so with dance ; the 
music was generally played on the stage, not in the orchestra. 

1 Cf. The Elizabethan Playhouse and other Studies (First Series), pp. 162-164. For 
view of the music loft at the Duke's in Dorset Gardens, see the illustration from The 
Empress of Morocco, now reproduced. A further proof that this elevated room was used 
by the musicians is that its carved base was adorned with musical emblems. 


(Duke's Theatre, 1673). [To face p. 160. 

The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms 1 6 1 

Examples abound, but two will suffice. One will be found 
at the close of Shadwell's Bury Fair (1689), and the other 
at the close of Congreve's The IVay of The World (1700). 
In the latter, the entrance of the musicians was led up to 
by the dramatist, who made Sir Wilful express a desire for 
a dance. "With all my heart, dear Sir Wilful]," replies 
Mirabell, " What shall we do for music ? " On which Foible 
interrupts with, "O, Sir, some that were provided for Sir 
Rowland's entertainment are yet within call." Evidently 
they then came on, but the direction says simply " a dance "} 
That the musicians in 1699 figured on occasion on both 
sides of the curtain is brought home to us by an extraordinary 
warrant sent in February of that year by the Lord Chamber- 
lain to the patentees of both companies : — 

Several persons of quality having made complaint to me that the 
musick belonging to your theatre behave themselves disrespectfully 
towards them by wearing their hats on, both in the Playhouse and 
upon the Stage : these are therefore to require you to give orders that 
for the future they take care to be uncovered during the time they 
are in the House. 2 

We come now to some consideration of the persistence 
of one or two well-worn conventions of dramatic construc- 
tion, notably, the introduced masque and the visualization 
of dreams. Mostly the resource of the private-theatre 
playwright, the introduced masque was of two kinds, the 
dramatic and the non-dramatic. By this attempt at classifica- 
tion one does not mean that one kind was germane and the 
other not ; each had its measure of illusion, because both gave 
a more or less faithful picture of contemporary manners. But 
whereas the non-dramatic masque, 3 while often deftly inter- 
woven and occasionally lending itself, as in Love 's Labour s 
Lost, to the rapier-play of wit, in nowise forwarded the 
action, and was merely introduced to delight the audience 

1 Cf. All Mistaken, or The Mad Couple (1667), as cited in Cunningham's The 
Story of Nell Gtvyn (1903), p. 65 5 also Cibber's The Double Gallant (1707), and The 
Rival Fools (1709), at end of both. 

* H. C. de Lafontaine, The King's Musick, p. 488. 

3 For examples, see The Tempest, iv. 1 ; Timon of Athens, Act 1 ; The Gentleman 
Usher, ii. 1 5 May Day, v. 1 ; The Widows Tears, iii. 2 ; Women Pleased, v. 3 3 A Wife 
for a Month, ii. 6 ; The Maid's Tragedy, i. 1. 


1 62 The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms 

with a dainty or eccentric dance executed by a number of 
fantastically arrayed people; on the other hand, the dramatic 
masque 1 more fullyjustified itself by leading up to a sharply 
contrasted theatrical surprise which hastened the catas- 
trophe. One is at first disposed to see in these two divisions 
the fruits of technical evolution, to jump at the conclusion 
that the dramatic masque was the perfected form of the non- 
dramatic. Colour is given to this specious theory by the 
fact that Shakespeare, while dovetailing the masque into 
the action with the hand of a master craftsman, never makes 
it the means of a coup de theatre. When he desires to arrive 
at an effect of this order he employs the play within a play, 
or bye-play, as it was called in his day. Further bolstering 
is given to the theory by the fact that in Caroline times the 
dramatic masque preponderates in the current scheme of 
dramaturgy, the non-dramatic kind having been largely 

1 superseded by the terminal dance. But all theorizing ofthis 
order falls to the ground when we find that some of the 
earliest introduced masques were of the dramatic order. 
Take the example afforded by the Pre-Shakespearean King 
Richard II, a play which belongs to circa 1592. Here we find 
the King and his retinue riding down to Plassy, disguised as 
masquers, with the intention of carrying off Woodstock. 
In the midst of the revels danger is scented and an alarm 
given ; too late, however, for their purpose is effected. 
Marston, in The Malcontent (a Blackfriars play of 1 603), put 
the intercalated masque in the fifth act to analogous use. 

t/For the most part, however, the dramatist of the strictly 
Shakespearean era either confined himself to the non- 
dramatic masque or, if he made resort to the dramatic, failed 
to squeeze the last drop of stage effect out of its potentialities. 
None rose to the melodramatic heights of Middleton in 
Women Beware Women. Recall how Guardiano in the fifth 
act devises a scheme of wholesale slaughter in the midst 
of the ducal revels, how Isabella and Livia are poisoned by 
the fumes of a subtly-prepared censer, how Hippolito is 

1 Cf. The Dutch Courtezan, iv. I ; The Lover's Melancholy, iii. 3 ; The Constant Maid, 
iv. 3 j The Cardinal, iii. 25 No Wit, No Help Like a Woman's, iv. 2. 

The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms 163 

mortally wounded by the mock Cupid's envenomed arrow, 
and how Guardiano himself, by a swift retribution, breaks 
his neck in falling through a trap-door prepared for another. 
The great days of the Court Masque ended with the 
Civil War, 1 and as a picture of contemporary manners the 
introduced masque had less and less right of existence after 
the Restoration. But while there can be little doubt that the 
reiteration of the device in the last half of the century was 
due to the opportunities it afforded for spectacular display, it 
needs to be noted that in the beginning its revival was matter 
of pure convention. The last introduced masque written for 
performance on the obsolescent platform-stage was the one 
seen at Vere Street on 25 April, 1 662, in the third act of Sir 
Robert Howard's tragi-comedy of The Surprisal. 2 In Pre- 
Restoration days, and more especially in the private theatre, 
some of the charms of the Court Masque were reflected by 
its abbreviated ectype. But the platform-stage was better 
adapted for the reproduction of its poetic and terpsichorean 
characteristics than of its pictorial. Lyric beauty is the domi- 
nant' quality of the introduced masques in The Tempest and 
The Maid's Tragedy. As in the latter play, some attempts were 
occasionally made at suggesting an elaborate background, 
mainly by the use of "properties", or what we now call 
" set-pieces " ; and the normal machinery of" the Heavens" 
permitted of the realization of the common masque-effect 
of the God out of the car. 3 But the last word in Pre-Restora- 
tion spectacular display is said by Middleton's No Wit^ No 
Help like a Woman s^ and compared with the scenic glories 
of the introduced masque on the early picture-stage, it is at 
best a feeble whispering. To reproduce the magic surprises 
of visual scenic transformations was clearly impossible on 
a stage devoid of an enclosed front. In this respect the 

1 Beyond Evelyn's records of masques at court on 2 July, 1663, and 18 February, 
1 666-7, we have no further trace of attempts to renew the old glories at Whitehall until 
15 Dec, 1674, when Calisto was first performed. But Crowne's production was more of 
an opera in the reigning French style than a masque. See Herbert Arthur Evans, English 
Masques (Warwick Series), Introd. pp. liv-lv. 

2 For the date, see Sir Henry Herbert's list as given in Malone's Shakespeare (Dublin, 
1794), ii. p. 224. 

3 Cf. The Tempest, iv. 1 5 A Wife for a Month, ii. 6 ; The Widows Tears, ii. 2. 

4 See the Masque of the Elements in Act iv, Scene 2. 

1 64 The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms 

picture-stage had the advantage, but it is important to note 
that the first introduced masques seen upon it, so far from 
being prolongations of the old convention, were not, strictly- 
speaking, masques at all, and owed their existence to the 
dominating influence of Franco-Italian court opera. This 
serves to emphasize the fact that the menace to the well- 
being of poetic drama in Restoration times was not from 
mere excess of spectacular display, but from the tendency 
to indulge in florid operatic interspersements. The first new 
introduced masques seen at the Duke's Theatre in Lincoln's 
Inn Fields were those included in The Slighted Maid and The 
Stepmother, two melanges by that arch spectacle-monger, Sir 
Robert Stapylton, both produced with acceptance in 1663. 
Beyond dazzling the eye and charming the musical sense 
none had any raison d'etre. In The Slighted Maid the masque 
of Vulcan's Smithy, with its dance of Cupids and Cyclops, 
formed the terminal scene of the piece. One readily divines 
the source of inspiration when one reads in the book that 
over the scene was inscribed, "Foro del Volcane." In The 
Stepmother, a slightly later play, two masques of a wholly 
extrinsic order were introduced, and for these vocal and 
instrumental music had been written by Matthew Lock. 

There was no revival of the old masque convention until 
Dryden's tragi-comedy of The Rival Ladies was produced 
at the Theatre Royal on 4 August, 1 664. Although bearing 
indications of the influence of Stapylton's methods, the 
masque of "The Rape of Proserpine," introduced in the 
third act, ended with a dramatic surprise binding it closely 
to the main embroilment. Less relevant, but more elaborate 
in spectacular display, was the masque seen at the opening 
of the second act of Lord Orrery's tragedy, The Black Prince, 
when produced at the Duke's theatre on 1 9 October, 1667. 
As the question whether the curtain was regularly lowered 
between the acts in the first picture-stage theatre 1 has 
immediate bearing on several important points, such, for 
example, as the origin of tableaux-endings, it is worthy of 

1 Already discussed in the First Series of these Studies, pp. 174-5. Something 
more will be said about it later. 

The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms 165 

note that in the quarto of this play, published in 1669, we 
have the following sequence : 

The End of the First Act. The Curtain falls. 

Act II 
The Curtain being drawn up, King Edward the Third, King John 
of France, and the Prince of Wales appear, seated on one side of the 
Theater ; waited on by the Count of Guesclin, the Lord Latymer, 
the Lord Delaware, and other Lords, with the King's Guards. On 
the other side of the Theater are seated Plantagenet, Alizia, Cleorin, 
Sevina, and other ladies. The Scene opens ; two Scenes of Clouds 
appear, the one within the other; in the hollow of each cloud are 
women and men richly apparell'd, who sing in Dialogue and Chorus, 
as the Clouds descend to the Stage; then the Women and Men enter 
upon the Theater and dance ; afterwards return into the clouds, 
which insensibly rise, all of them singing until the Clouds are ascended 
to their full height ; then onely the Scene of the King's magnificent 
Palace does appear. All the Company rise. 1 

If it had been usual at this period to drop the curtain 
between the acts, the directions here at the close of the first 
act and the opening of the second would surely have been 
superfluous. This point has bearing on a matter subse- 
quently to be discussed, but the citation has otherwise been 
given at length to indicate the highly elaborate nature of the 
introduced masques of the period. It is noteworthy that 
as the claims of spectacle grew more imperative there was 
a weakening of the pretence that the introduced masque 
was performed for the amusement of the mock audience. 
Settle has a pertinent masque 2 of the dramatic order in his 
sensational farrago, The Empress of 'Morocco (167 3), but as the 
principal characters in his play take part in the masque, and 
are not endowed with the uncommon faculty of Sir Boyle 
Roche's bird, we have the anomaly of an entertainment 
being presented to vacancy. Once the illusive pretence 
became thoroughly ignored, the introduced masque showed 
a tendency to develop into elaborate intermedii^ as in 

1 For an equally elaborate masque, but a vision conjured up by a magician, see 
Crowne's History of Charles the Eighth of France (1672), v. 3. 

2 Notable as the only introduced masque of the seventeenth century of which we 
have an authentic illustration. See the original quarto. 

1 66 The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms 

Ravenscroft's comedy of The Anatomist; or The Sham Doctor, 
which, as performed at Lincoln's Inn Fields in November, 
1696, was combined with Motteux's masque of The Loves 
of Mars and Venus, given in instalments between the acts by 
way of providing amusement for the dramatis personae ! 
Thus it was that in one guise or another the introduced 
masque persisted until at least the second decade of the 
eighteenth century, eventually providing an exemplar for 
the serious section of the curiously composite scheme of 
English Pantomime. 

Unlike the introduced masque, to which as a dramatic 
expedient it was somewhat akin, the bye-play had no 
particular vogue in Post-Restoration times. While it was 
an easy matter to stage a play within a play in days when 
movable scenery was not employed, it proved a difficult 
matter on the early picture-stage, where, by logical develop- 
ment, it became a question of showing a theatre within a 
theatre. Shadwell's attempt to solve the problem in 1678 
in A True Widow proved so disastrous that subsequent 
dramatists fought shy of the convention, and but for its 
preservation through the perennial popularity of Hamlet, it 
might have disappeared altogether from the wide scheme 
of dramaturgy. 1 Shadwell's failure was due to lack of 
concentration. There was a curious sequence of scenes 
showing the arrival of the spectators at the theatre, the 
beginning of the bye-play, its interruption by rowdies, and 
some frolicking behind the scenes. In a note prefixed to 
the quarto of his play, published in 1679, Shadwell made 
comment on the fiasco. After referring to some printer's 
errors in the book, he goes on — 

But the greatest mistake was not printing the Play in the Play in 
another character, that that might be known in reading which a 
great many do not find in the acting of it; but take notice, two 
lovers, Wife and Husband are all that speak in that. 

In the action many doubted which belonged to the farce in the 
Play, and which to the Play itself, by reason of promiscuous speaking, 

1 For latter-day examples, see New Sbakespcareana, iii, 1904, No. 4, pp. 126-7, 
my article on "Plays within Plays." 

tfhe Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms 167 

and I found by venturing on that new thing, I ran a great risk. For 
some, I believe, wished the Play like that part of a farce in it ; others 
knew not my intention in it, which was to expose the style and plot 
of farce-makers to the utter confusion of damnable farce and all its 
wicked and foolish adherents. But I had rather suffer by venturing 
to bring new things upon the stage than go on like a mill-horse in 
the same round. 

The persistence on the picture-stage of the old conven- 
tion of the visualization of dreams was due to the same 
reason as the preservation of the incidental masque. Both 
were eminently grateful to the spectacle-monger. While it 
seems not unlikely, judging by their close inter-relationship 
in Elizabethan drama, that the visualized dream developed 
out of the dumb-show, the evidence to hand does not wholly 
justify that conclusion. We have early examples in which 
the portent of the dream is expressed in pure dumb-show, 1 
and we have equally early examples in which speech, even 
dialogue, is employed. 2 Unless one could arrive at the 
archetype it would be dangerous to predicate concerning 
origins. What is more material now is for us to note that 
early in the seventeenth century the visualized dream dis- 
associated itself with dumb-show, and assumed some of the 
trappings of the intercalary masque. For a good example 
we need not look beyond Cymbeline, v. 4, with its striking 
effects of the descending god and the thunderbolt. Even 
more masque-like in character is the vision scene in 
The Rebellion (circa 1638), 3 with Love speaking in mid-air 
and Death emerging to drive him away. On the early 
picture-stage all these spectacular characteristics were over- 
accentuated until the vision was given a prominence out of 
all proportion to its importance. The most flagrant example 
of this occurs in Otway's tragedy, Alcibiades^ as performed 
at Dorset Gardens in 1675. In Act v. 2, cc adarken'dTent", 
Timandra is discovered asleep on a couch. After two Spirits 
have indulged in a brief vocal dialogue (an obvious parody 

1 The Death of Robert, Earl of Huntington (1598), Act 1 ; If you know Not me, you 
know Nobody, Pt. I (1605), Act ii. 

2 Grim the Collier of Croydon (1599), i. 1 ; Alphonsus, King of Arragon (1599), iii- 2j 
King Richard III, Act v. 3 Act iii. 3. 

1 68 The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms 

on one of the spurious "Witch scenes in Macbeth), the scene 
changes to Elysium, and while the song continues several 
other Spirits fly down and dance. Then a Glorious Temple, 
bearing the Spirits of the Happy, slowly descends to earth 
and suddenly disappears, leaving to view the original tent- 
scene with the sleeping lady. 

No evidence exists to show whether or not the old custom 
of spectators sitting on the stage was revived at the Restora- 
tion during the closing months of the platform-stage era. 
All we know for certain is that the custom was not allowed 
to obtain on the picture-stage for some years after its incep- 
tion. Sorbieres, when he visited London in 1 663, remarked 
that the English stage, in striking contrast with the French, 
was unencumbered with spectators. 1 A little over a year 
later, when some trouble had been experienced through the 
bloods about town invading the players' quarters, the King 
issued an order which must have temporarily checked any 
tendency towards the renewal of the old practice : — 

Charles R. Whereas complaint hath been made unto us of great 
disorders in the attiring-house of the Theatre of our dearest brother, 
the Duke of York, under the government of our trusty and well- 
beloved Sir William Davenant, by the resort of persons thither to the 
hinderance of the actors, and interruption of the scenes. Our will 
and pleasure is that no person, of what quality soever, do presume to 
enter at the door of the attiring-house, but such as do belong to the 
Company and are employed by them. Requiring the guards attend- 
ing there, and all whom it may concern, to see that obedience be 
given hereunto, and that the names of the offenders be sent to us. 2 

Nine years later, on 2 February, 1 673-4, the King issued 
another order bearing indication that spectators had once 
more begun to infest the stage. After dealing with disorders 
in front of the house at both theatres, this runs on : 

And forasmuch as 'tis impossible to command those vast engines 
(which move the scenes and machines) and to order such a number 

1 Cf. The Elizabethan Playhouse and other Studies (First Series), p. i SS. For the 
practice in France at this period, see Pougin, Le Theatre a /' 'Exposition Uni-versclle de 1889, 
pp. 66-7. 

2 Issued on 25 February, 1664-5. Cf. Fitzgerald's New Hist. Eng. Stage, i. p. 96, 
where the dating is ambiguous. 

The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms 169 

of persons as must be employed in works of that nature, if any and 
such as do not belong thereunto be suffered to press in amongst them ; 
Our will and command is that no person of what quality soever 
presume to stand or sit on the stages or to come within any part of the 
scenes before the play begins, while 'tis acting, or after 'tis ended; and 
we strictly here command our officers and guard of souldiers, which 
attend the respective theaters, to see this order exactly observed. 1 

Notwithstanding all these threatenings of pains and 
penalties, the old custom was eventually re-established. 
In Lord Lansdowne's comedy, The She Gallants, as pro- 
duced at Lincoln's Inn Fields late in 1695, one finds Philabel 
in the third act expounding the new method of damning 
plays. At the first performance the mischief-makers scat- 
tered themselves in sections all over the house, 

some in the Pit, some in the Boxes, others in the Galleries, but 
principally on the Stage; they cough, sneeze, talk aloud and break silly 
jests; sometimes laughing, sometimes singing, sometimes whistling, 
till the House is in an uproar; some laugh and clap; some hiss and 
areangry; swords are drawn, the actors interrupted, thescene broken 
off, and so the Play's sent to the devil. 

For long after this neither ridicule nor royal edicts could 
dislodge the stage lounger from his coign of vantage. It 
was not until 1763, or thereabouts, that the nuisance was 
wholly got rid of. 2 

Owing to the temporary disuse on the early picture-stages 
of the old practice of sitting on the stage, a certain bizarre 
scheme of private-theatre dramaturgy, whose existence 
depended wholly on the practice, fell also into desuetude. 
This was the Jonsonian type of satire which employed 
mock spectators as a sort of chorus to the play. One calls it 
Jonsonian because rare old Ben so frequently employed it, 3 
but it neither originated with him nor shone to best advan- 
tage under his handling. For the root idea one has to go 

1 Bibliotbeca Lindesiana,v'\. No. 3588. This order is inaccurately cited and under 
a wrong date by Fitzgerald, op. cit. i. 146-7. It was reissued, with slight variation, 
under William and Mary, on 14 Nov., 1689. 

2 For fuller details, see my article on "The Audience on the Stage," in The Gent's 
Magazine for June, 1888. 

3 See The Poetaster ; Every Man Out of His Humour $ The Staple of Neivs and The 
Magnetic Lady. 

1 70 The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms 

to Munday's curious piece, The Downfall of Robert, Earl of 
Huntington, as acted at the Rose, circa 1597. 1 In the wide 
scheme of Elizabethan drama no class of play was more 
ephemeral than the mock-spectator play. Only one piece 
of this order, and that by far the most delightful, held its 
place on the stage after the Civil War. Irresistible in its way 
as Don Quixote, which it in some measure recalls, The Knight 
of the Burning Pestle was given at Vere Street on 5 May, 
1 662, and had occasional later revival before the close of the 
century. At long last one pedestrian poet, old Elkanah 
Settle, was directly inspired by its technique, and the result 
was his comedy of The City Ramble; or the Playhouse Wedding, 
brought out at Drury Lane on 17 August, 171 1. Irre- 
spective of the unhappy period of production, a new play 
of this type was foredoomed to failure ; and the ingenuity 
displayed by Settle in pouring the old wine into new 
bottles proved no mitigating circumstance. When the play 
opens we find the Common Council-man, his wife and their 
daughter Jenny seated as spectators in the middle-gallery 
side box over one of the proscenium entering doors. An 
actor comes on to speak the prologue, and a colloquy imme- 
diately ensues between him and the Common Council-man. 
At its close the husband and wife descend to the stage, 
secretly followed by Miss Jenny, whose lover happens to 
be one of the players. Her place in the side-gallery box is 
quickly taken by an obliging actress, dressed and masked 
like herself. Then husband and wife appear on the stage, 
and are handed by the Prologue into a stage-box. This is 
the cue for the play to begin. The action passes in Verona, 
and in nowise resembles the story of The Knight of the Burning 
Pestle, but during the intervals the Common Council-man 
and his wife discuss the play much after the old method. 
At the end of the fourth act the worthy couple desert their 
snug position in the stage-box, and trot ofFbehind the scenes. 
With the opening of the last act we see them coming on 
again behind, attended by an actor. Miss Jenny assists 
her spouting lover by assuming a character in the play, 

1 Otherwise notable as the first "rehearsal" play. 

The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms 171 

which runs its placid course amid the na'ive "asides " of the 
Common Council-man and his spouse. 

On the early Elizabethan stage a curious convention 
held sway, born of the employment of the multiple scene 1 
in the Mysteries 2 and Moralities, as well as in the later 
performances of plays at Court. Journeys both long and 
short were performed in full sight of the audience. This 
explains the direction in Romeo and Juliet, i. 5 (Quarto 1), 
so often misconstrued, "they march about the stage, and 
servingmen come forth with their napkins." Precisely what 
this signifies will be the more readily grasped by considering 
the analogous direction in The Famous Historie of Sir Thomas 
Wyat, " A Dead March, and pass round the stage and Guild- 
ford speaks." Here the journey from Sion House to the 
Tower was visually accomplished by a mere circling round 
the stage. Out of this convention arose the correlated 
practice of changing the place of action while the characters 
remained, and that without any symbolic action indicative of 
ajourney. To the modern reader unversed in old methods 
there are some bewildering transferences of this order in 
Arden of Fever sham, Act i, where the scene shifts abruptly 
from a room in Arden's House to the exterior, with ajourney 
performed to the painter's house, and all without break. 3 
Sometimes by the mere drawing of a curtain the characters 
were transferred from the outside of a house to the inside, 
or from one room to another. 4 

Although these conventions were best observed in the 
days when the principle of the multiple scene flourished at 
Court, or up to the meridian of Shakespeare's career, traces of 
their persistence are to be found even in the Caroline period, 
when improved methods of technique were struggling for 
the mastery. For example, the more illusive method of 

1 Cf. The Elizabethan Playhouse and other Studies (First Series), pp. 127, and 237-43. 

2 E. K. Chambers, The Mediaeval Stage, ii. 134 5 C F. Tucker Brooke, The Tudor 
Drama, pp. 21-3, Mystery of Abraham and Isaac, circa 1458 (for text of which see Anglia, 
xxi, 1S99, pp. 21-55). 

3 Cf. The Tivo Angry Women of Abington (1599), Act i. Also Edward II, v. 5, 
for a sudden transition, which, by the way, proved very puzzling to the audience when 
Marlowe's play was revived at Oxford in August, 1903. 

4 Middleton's A Mad World, My Masters, ii. 7 ; The Tempest, v. I. 

172 The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms 

effecting a change of scene had been practised in The Faith- 
ful Friends (ascribed, no doubt wrongly, to Beaumont and 
Fletcher). 1 In Act iv, after the banquet and masque, 
Rufinus says, "Away, before them, lead to the chamber 
called Elysium." Tullius, Philadelphia and Rufinus exeunt, 
a rich bed is thrust out, and they enter again, Tullius saying, 
"this is the lodging called Elysium." On the other hand, 
in a considerably later Blackfriars play, The Goblins, rever- 
sion is made to the primitive system. Although the break 
is well led up to in the fifth act of Suckling's tragi-comedy, 
the change of scene to Sabrina's chamber is made while the 
characters remain. 

One sturdy convention of Elizabethan dramaturgy was 
fated to pass away with the rise of the picture-stage — the 
convention of the unlocated scene. 2 Vagueness of back- 
ground was no longer possible once the principle of succes- 
sive scenery was adopted. The unlocated scene owed its 
origin to long familiarity with the arbitrary laws of the 
multiple scene, 3 and by a parity of reasoning one would 
expect to find that all the other stage practices which sprang 
from the same source had also disappeared with the coming 
of the picture-stage. Strange to say, however, that was not 
the case. The principle of the transference of scene while 
the characters remain persisted on the English stage until 
the second decade of the eighteenth century. On the early 
picture-stage the use of the flats closing in the scene was 
analogous to the use of the traverses shrouding the rear 
stage in the Pre-Restoration theatres. It brought the 
mountain to Mahomet. By simply drawing the flats the 
characters on the stage were at once placed in another room. 
An early example of this occurs in Dryden's The Rival 
Ladies, as produced at the Theatre Royal in August, 1664. 
Act v, Scene 1, opens in a carack. The Captain says, "Don 
Rod'rick's door opens, I'll speak to him." Then we have 
the direction, "The scene draws and discovers the Captain's 

1 Cf. Fleay, Biog. Chron. Eng. Drama, ii. 331, No. 297. 

2 Cf. The Elizabethan Playhouse and other Studies (First Series), pp. 67-8. 

3 ibid, p. 238, and more particularly note 3. 

The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms 173 

cabin ; Roderick on a bed, and 2 servants by him." The 
Captain then proceeds to address Roderick just as if he had 
come to his bed-side. 

Two other points in connexion with this scene are note- 
worthy. Doors were seldom, if ever, provided in the scene 
on the early picture-stage, their presence being largely 
obviated by the permanent proscenium entering doors, 
which answered all ordinary purposes. Hence, where we 
find a character giving instructions for a door to be opened 
that somebody in a suppositious inner-room may be seen, 
we may infer (in the few instances where accompanying stage 
directions are wanting) that this was a cue for the partial 
withdrawal of the back flats. 1 Again, at the end of the scene, 
between Roderick and the Captain, we have the direction, 
"Bed drawn in, exeunt," indicating that when the flats were 
opened the bed was thrust well forward. This curious 
survival of an old Elizabethan custom was due to the 
necessity of making audible the speech of the supine repre- 
sentative of Roderick, a necessity which indicates the origin 
of the practice. Thus, in Dryden's last play, Love Trium- 
phant ; or Nature will Prevail (1 694), we read at the opening 
of Act ii, "The Scene is a Bedchamber, a Couch prepar'd, 
and set so near the Pit that the audience-may hear." 

Still quainter than the earlier example is Dryden's employ- 
ment of the adopted convention of transference of scene 
with a full stage in An Evenings Love, or the Mock Astrologer, 
as produced at the Theatre Royal in June, 1668. At the 
close of Act iv, Scene 1, while Wilding is soliloquizing, 
" the scene opens and discovers Aurelia and Camilla ; behind 
them a table and lights set on it. The Scene is a Garden 
with an arbour in it." Thus interrupted, Wilding merely 
says, " The garden door opens ! How now, Aurelia and 
Camilla," etc., and then departs unseen. Shortly after- 
wards Don Melchior enters, and is taken for a ghost by the 
women, one of whom in her fright overturns the table and 

1 Cf. Otway's The Soldier's Fortune, Act iv, where the characters are closed in 
in front after the Drawer is directed to shut the door. Also Dryden's An Evening's 
Love, v. 1, end ("Maskall, open the door"); Crowne's Sir Courtly Nice (1685), i. I, 
at end, and v. 3, end ; and Congreve's Love for Love, iv. 1. 

1 74 The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms 

lights. The scene is then closed in by the running in of 
another pair of flats, but Don Melchior is left standing in 
front, 1 and opens a new scene with a soliloquy. Dryden at 
this juncture evidently believed it was a poor convention 
that couldn't be made to work both ways ! 

Slightly later examples of transference of scene while the 
characters remain are to be found in Crowne's The Country 
Wit (1675), Act iii, and in Otway's Don Carlos (1676), 
Acts iv and v. The earlier example in Otway's tragedy is 
somewhat curious. The fourth act opens in an ante-chamber 
to the Queen's apartment. While the King and Ruy Gomez 
are conversing, the scene draws and reveals to their sight 
Don John and Eboli embracing. 2 

As time went on, bland acceptance of this convention led 
to curious intricacies of technique. Towards the close of the 
last act of Nat Lee's tragedy, The Massacre of Paris (1689), 
the Queen Mother set an unexcelled precedent for Sir Boyle 
Roche's bird in contriving to be in three places at once. In 
Scene 5, representing the Louvre, we find her saying, 

Here, Colonel, bring your prisoners, 
And let me see these leaders of the faction. 

Then the scene draws, exposing the commanders, who 
are shot. Afterwards the scene is drawn again to reveal the 
Admiral's body burning. It is noteworthy that most of these 
changes from one part of a building to another, cc openings of 
doors", and discoveries were not reckoned separate scenes 
in the technical or literary sense. Lee heads Act v. 5, " Scena 
Ultima", oblivious of the two marked changes taking place 
in it. In accordance with this convention Addison opens 
the back scene in the last act of Cato (17 12) to reveal the 
philosopher dying in his chair, although in other respects 
the Unity of Place is so strictly observed that only one scene 
was used throughout, "A Large Hall in the Governor's 
Palace of Utica." 

1 For later examples of this practice, see Jevon's The Devil of a Wife (1686), i. 3 
at end; and Southerne's The Wives' Excuse; or Cuckolds make Themselves (1692), iv. I. 

2 Cf. Lee's Constantine the Great (1684), iii. 2 ("See there the Bed's prepar'd"), 
and v. 2 ("Behold the poison'd Bath") 5 Southerne's The Wives' Excuse (1692), Act v. 

'The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms 175 

Albeit that in point of dramatic construction Nicholas 
Rowe was a neo-Elizabethan, it comes with some surprise 
to find him writing a tragedy in 171 5 which ends with a 
compound transference of scene similar to the one in The 
Massacre of Paris. 1 In his Lady Jane Gray, as produced at 
Drury Lane in April of that year, Act v, Scene 2, shows 
the ill-fated heroine at her devotions in her cell in the 
Tower. After a poignant interview with Guilford, who is 
led off to execution, she rails at Gardiner, and concludes 
her reproaches abruptly with, "and see my journey's end." 
Accompanying this is a direction, "The scene draws, and 
discovers a scaffold hung in black, Executioner and Guards." 
After taking farewell of her attendants, and making a final 
speech, Lady Jane Grey goes up to the scaffold, and another 
pair of flats are run on in front, closing in the scene of execu- 
tion but closing out Gardiner, to whom Pembroke immedi- 
ately enters, with his mouth full of bitter reproaches, and then 
the play ends. In point of theatrical effectiveness nothing 
could have been clumsier. Here we have the expiring 
flicker of the old transference of scene with a full stage, as 
well as of the well-worn principle of terminal anti-climax. 
Already in Comedy new concepts had begun to rule. 

With regard to exits and entrances a curious parallelism 
is to be noted between the routine of the platform-stage and 
of the early picture-stage, and that, despite their marked 
physical differentiation. On both the great majority of exits 
and entrances were made through two permanent doors, 
situated on the one in the tiring-house facade, and on the 
other at the sides of the proscenium arch. The main excep- 
tion to the rule on both was associated with the entrance of 
eavesdroppers who came on behind. 2 Exits were mostly 
made through the permanent doors, but occasionally charac- 
ters disappeared from sight by being closed in. On the 
platform-stage this was only possible where the action was 
momentarily confined to the lower or upper inner-stages. 3 

1 For a simple transference of this order, see his tragedy, The Royal Convert (17 07), 
v. 2. 2 Vide ante pp. 44 and 140. 

3 Cf. Volpone, or the Fox, v. 6 5 The Mad Lover, v. 1 ; The Fatal Contract, v. 2 ; 
Lust's Dominion, i. 1, end. 

176 The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms 

On the picture-stage this was frequently effected by running 
on a pair of front flats. Most remarkable parallelism of 
all, acts on both types almost invariably ended with a clear 
stage. 1 Here we have clear evidence of the perpetuation of 
an early Elizabethan conventionalism in the very presence 
of physical conditions which positively clamoured for an 
entirely different system. If the front curtain has one partic- 
ular gratefulness more than another it is the adaptability 
with which it lends itself to effective tableaux-endings. 
But the correlative arrangement of the early picture-stage 
indicates why these were so long avoided. Acting could 
and did take place occasionally within the scene, but in the 
ill-constructed and ill-lit theatres of the Post-Restoration 
times it was necessary for the most part that the players 
should keep well to the front, on the apron ; and at the 
close of an act it was easier to make an effective exit by the 
bordering proscenium doors than to work gradually inwards 
so as to form an effective tableau. Apart from this, the 
Post-Restoration dramatist had no understanding of the art 
of the curtain. He could conceive that a terminal tableau 
would be effective, but he did not know how to arrive at it 
dramatically. Here, for example, is the germ of the modern 
tableau, taken from Mrs. Behn's first play, The Forced 
Marriage ; or The Jealous Bridegroom, as acted at the Duke's 
Theatre, Lincoln's Inn Fields, late in 1670. 2 At the close 
of Act i, we read : 

The Curtain must be let down; and soft Musick plays: the 
curtain being drawn up, discovers a Scene of a Temple: The King 
sitting on a Throne, bowing down to join the Hands of Alcippus 
and Erminia, who kneel on the steps of the throne; the Officers of 
the Court and Clergy standing in order by, with Orgulius. This 
within the Scene. 

Without on the stage, Philander with his sword half drawn, held 
by Galatea, who looks ever on Alcippus : Erminia still fixing her 
eyes on Philander ; Pisaro passionately gazing on Galatea ; Aminta 
on Fallatio, and he on her; Alcander, Isillia, Cleontius, in other 

1 For a few platform-stage exceptions, see The Elizabethan Playhouse and other 
Studies (First Series), pp. 86-7. 

2 Cf. The Elizabethan Playhouse and other Studies (First Series), pp. 194-5. 

The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms 177 

several postures, with the rest; all remaining without motion, whilst 
the Musick softly plays ; this continues awhile till the curtain falls ; 
and then the Musick plays aloud till the Act begins. 

Unfortunately, one cannot speak with any certainty as to 
the exact physical disposition of the first Duke's Theatre, 
no view or description of the interior having come down to 
us; but if by "without on the stage" Mrs. Behn implies 
"out on the apron", then the latter part of the arrange- 
ment must have been particularly clumsy, as, owing to 
the curtain being behind the proscenium opening, all the 
characters posing without must have taken their places and 
gone off in full sight of the audience. But it may be that 
the description is misleading. 

Some proof must now be advanced that the characters at 
the end of an act left the stage by means of the proscenium 
doors instead of being enclosed by a falling curtain. It will 
not suffice to say that in the seventeenth-century quartos 
of picture-stage plays this is indicated by the terminal 
"exeunt", for, viewing the clumsiness of old-time directions, 
which sometimes meant anything but what they said, this 
might be plausibly assumed to be a conventional equation 
for "curtain". The point is best driven home by citing 
examples where towards the close of an act the characters go 
off gradually, one by one, until the stage is left clear. Take 
the concluding twenty lines of the fourth act of Otway's 
Akibiades (1675). First Alcibiades and Timandra, " exeunt 
several ways guarded, and looking back on each other." 
Then the King speaks seven lines and departs, leaving the 
Queen, who concludes the act with a brief speech, and finally 
goes off. So far from this being a special arrangement neces- 
sitated by the exigencies of the plot, one finds it cropping 
up again in Otway's later plays, notably at the end of the 
third and fourth acts of Don Carlos, Prince of Spain (1676). 1 
By way of indicating the space of time which elapsed before 
tableaux-endings became the rule, it may be pointed out 
that Cibber's comedy, The Careless Husband, as produced 

1 For examples in Dryden, see Troilus and Cressida ; or Truth found too Late, Act 
iv 5 The Spanish Fryar, Acts i. ii and iv 5 The Duke of Guise, Act ii. 


178 The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms 

at Drury Lane in December, 1 704, has two exits in rapid 
sequence at the close of the fourth act. 1 

There are other terminal directions in the old quartos 
which could hardly be contorted to imply the falling of a 
curtain, and must therefore be taken at their surface value. 
Notable among these is the "exeunt omnes", so often to 
be found at the end of the last act. 2 Equally explicit is the 
"Exeunt, the King leading her," which occurs at the close 
of Act iv of Dryden and Lee's tragedy, The Duke of Guise 

This wholesale departure of all the characters at the end 
of the play, after the Elizabethan method, draws attention 
to the fact that the curtain did not fall until after the delivery 
of the epilogue. Any doubts that might be entertained on 
this point will be allayed by Dryden's epilogue to Sir Martin 
Mar-all y as spoken at the Duke's on 15 August, 1667 : — 

As country vicars, when their sermon 's done 

Run hudling to the benediction ; 

Well knowing, though the better sort may stay, 

The vulgar rout will run unblessed away : 

So we, when once our play is done, make haste 

With a short epilogue to close your taste. 

In thus withdrawing, we seem mannerly ; 

But when the curtain 's down, we peep, and see 

A jury of the wits, who still stay late, 

And in their club decree the poor play's fate. 

Sometimes the epilogue was spoken before the dramatis 
personae departed, as in the case of Arrowsmith's comedy of 
The Reformation at Dorset Gardens in 1673, 3 but under any 
circumstances the curtain did not fall until it was delivered. 

This (as one takes it) wholly unnecessary preservation of 
the principle of the general departure at the end led to the 
continuance of the old system of bearers for the dead. Even 

1 Cf. Farquhar's Sir Harry Wildair (1701), end of Act iii, where Wildair "pushes 
him [Banter] out, and exit." 

2 For examples, see An Evening's Love ; Sir Courtly Nice ; The Plain Dealer ,• Titus 
and Berenice ; The Cheats of Scapin ,• Love and a Bottle and The Mourning Bride. 

3 Cf. Howard's tragedy, The Festal Virgin (1665), in which, "just as the last words 
were spoke, Mr. Lacy enter'd and spoke the Epilogue" ; also The Mock Dwellist y 1675. 

The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms 179 

at the very close of the century 1 cues were provided in the 
text intimating when the bearers were to fulfil their office, 
as in the last scene of Congreve's The Mourning Bride , where 
Alphonso says, "Let 'em remove the body from her sight." 
More positive evidence of the employment of bearers is to 
hand in Dryden's tragedy of Tyrannic Love ; or the Royal 
Martyr, as acted at the Theatre Royal about May, 1669. 2 
At the end, after "exeunt omnes", we have the epilogue 
with the heading, "spoken by Mrs. Ellen, when she was to 
be carried off dead by the Bearers." This was the historic 
occasion on which Nell Gwyn, to the exceeding delight of 
the Merry Monarch, suddenly j umped up, and, after boxing 
one of the bearers' ears, exclaimed : 

Hold ! are you mad ? you damned confounded dog ! 
I am to rise and speak the epilogue. 

Everything points to the fact that on the early picture- 
stage the curtain, so far from being put to what would now be 
called its obvious uses, was rarely employed to any material 
advantage. It would seem that to a large extent the system 
followed on the Caroline masque-stage 3 and inD'Avenant's 
Commonwealth operas 4 — a system Italian in its origin and 
European in its vogue 5 — obtained throughout the latter half 
of the seventeenth century ; and that the curtain, once up, 
did not fall until all was over. The known exceptions are 
not more numerous than are necessary to prove the rule. 6 
Usually the scene with which one act concluded remained 
in sight of the audience until the next act began, when it 
was drawn off (or closed in) and a new scene revealed. This 
would explain why we find directions at the beginning of 
acts like, "Scene draws off and discovers Lady Knowell," 
etc., as in Sir Patient Fancy (1678), Act iii, and "the Scene 

1 Note the reference in The Spectator, No. 341, 1 April, 171 1-2, to the persons 
"whose Business it is to carry off the Slain in our English Tragedies." 

2 Although not printed until 1670 the play was licensed for publication on 14. 
July, 1669. 

3 Cf. The Elizabethan Playhouse and other Studies (First Series), pp. 11 8-9. 

4 Vide ante p. 134. 

5 At the Opera House in Paris the custom of dropping the curtain between the 
acts did not come into use until 1828. See Bapst, op. cit. p. 385. 

6 Cf. The Elizabethan Playhouse and other Studies (First Series), p. 171 note 2; also 
this book, ante pp. 165 and 176. 

1 80 The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms 

changes to the tent of Achilles," as in Heroic Love (1698), 
Act ii. Even so late as 1 7 1 5 we find Addison writing at the 
beginning of the second act of The Drummer, "scene opens 
and discovers Vellum." 

In Italy the principle of the open stage from start to finish 
was established by the abounding popularity of the inter- 
medin which grew in time to overshadow the substantive 
play. It may be that, following the precedent of inter-act 
dancing at the old theatres, more interludes were performed 
on the Post-Restoration stage than mere documentary 
evidence would warrant us to believe. Writing of Katharine 


Philips's posthumous tragedy, Horace, as given at the 
Theatre Royal, Pepys records on 19 January, 1668-9 : 

Lacy has made a farce 1 of several dances, between each act one ; 
but his words are but silly and invention not extraordinary as to the 
dances, only some Dutchmen come out of the mouth and tail of a 
Hamburgh sow. 

If this was the type of farce feebly satirised by Shadwell 
in The True Widow (1678), the genre must have been more 
popular than surface indications denote. 

All these facts go to show that the kind of stage effect 
sought for at the ends of acts was not an effect of grouping 
but an effect of picturesque exits. In Post-Restoration times 
was doubtless established that principle of the "springing 
off with the established glance at the pit and projected right 
arm," which still flourished a century later. 2 The closing of 
the acts grew to be marked by a neat rounding off of speech, 
which led to an extraordinary development of the conven- 
tional tag. 

So little consideration has been given to the history of 
the tag that some inquiry into its rise and progress is now 
imperative. To begin with, one must hazard a definition of 
the term in its strictly specialized sense. In its final mould, 
as familiarly known to playgoers half a century ago, the tag 
formed the closing lines of the play. Whether in prose or 
verse, it was an epigrammatic summing up of the moral 

1 According to Mrs. Evelyn it was acted by the author and Nell Gwyn, and took 
very well. 2 Cf. The Elizabethan Playhouse aad other Studies (First Series), p. 1S1. 

The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms 1 8 1 

intended to be conveyed. In speaking it, the player generally 
came forward, and, ceasing personation, made direct appeal 
to the audience. Here, for example, is the tag to The Lady 
of Lyons (1838) : — 

Ah, the same love that tempts us into sin, 
If it be true love, works out its redemption ; 
And he who seeks repentance for the past, 
Should woo the Angel Virtue in the future. 

When we come to probe into the question of origins, 
we shall find that the moralizing tag was unknown in the 
Elizabethan era, or to speak more definitely, within the 
period of Shakespeare's intellectual activities. Tags of 
simple appeal, begging the applause and good report of the 
audience, are to be found now again in the drama of that 
glorious epoch, but even in this elementary form, they are 
the exception, not the rule. Shakespeare for the most part 
avoids them, although at the close of AlVs Well that Ends 
fVellwt find the King "advancing" to say : 

The King's a beggar now the play is done; 
All is well ended if this suit be won, 
That you express content, which we will pray 
With strife to please you, day exceeding day. 
Ours be your patience then, and yours our parts ; 
Your gentle hands lend us, and take our hearts. 

The normal elementary tag was delivered by a single 
speaker, but in Greene's Tu Quo que ; or the City Gallant^ 
as acted circa 1 6 1 1 x , we find a curious variant in which a 
rhyming tag of sixteen lines is distributed among eight 
people, a couplet to each. Of this order, but not so happy 
(because the plot is continued in it), is the tag in The 
Adventures of Five Hours (1 662). 2 Although of rare occur- 
ence the multiple tag persisted throughout the eighteenth 
century, and relics of it are still to be found in provincial 
pantomime of the old-fashioned order. 

It has been said that " regarded genealogically, the tag is 
the offspring of the epilogue, which, in older times, consti- 

1 Cf. Fleay, Biog. Chron. Eng. Drama, i. 72-3. 

2 As printed in Hazlitt's Dodsley. 

1 82 The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms 

tuted so marked a feature in dramatic entertainments." 1 
In a sense there may be truth in this, but it must be pointed 
out that the moralizing tag could not have been the offspring 
of the conventional epilogue, for at no time in its history 
was it the mission of the epilogue to moralize the play. 2 On 
the other hand, if it could be assumed that the moralizing 
tag 3 was directly descended from the tag of simple appeal, 
then the epilogue might be fittingly placed at the head of the 
genealogical tree. The point is somewhat puzzling, but 
the primitive tag seems to have been arrived at by attempts 
to incorporate the epilogue with the play, as in AWs Well 
that Ends Well; As Ton Like It and A Midsummer Night's 
Dream. The most ingenious tag-epilogue of this order is 
to be found in The Pleasant Historie of the Two Angrie 
Women of Aldington, as acted at the Rose, circa 1596. Here 
Mall Barnes' closing speech begins thoroughly in character 
and, developing into a disquisition on goose, ends in an 
appeal to the audience not to indulge in hissing. 4 

Although a few earlier examples might be found (such 
as the Bastard's magnificent peroration in King John), the 
principle of the moralizing tag dates as a convention from 
the beginning of Charles the First's reign. But frequently 
as it then occurs the moralizing tag seldom attains distinc- 
tion, and is rarely beyond the level of Shirley's maxim in 
The Witty Fair One : — 

When all things have their trial, you shall find 
Nothing is constant but a virtuous mind. 5 

Once the tag had reached its ultimate, or aphoristic, stage 
its tenure was assured. Unmoved by all the ebbs and flows 

1 The Era Almanack, 1874, p. 70, article on "Tags," by William Sawyer. This 
is principally interesting for the examples it gives of latter-day tags. 

2 Cf. G. S. Bower's article on "The Prologue and Epilogue in English Literature," 
in Co/burn's Neiv Monthly Magazine, February, 1882, pp. 182-3. 

3 Note that when it came into vogue it did not immediately supersede the primi- 
tive form. Tags of simple appeal are to be found in The Parliament of Love (1624); 
The Great Duke of Florence (1627) ; A New Way to Pay Old Debts (1633) and The 
Parson's Wedding (1640). 

4 In the argot of the wings "goose" or "to get the bird" is still the common 
term for hissing. 

5 For other Caroline examples, see The Roman Actor ; The Picture ; The Unnatural 
Combat; A Match at Midnight and The Cardinal. 

The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms 183 

of dramatic evolution, it maintained its pride of place 
for wellnigh two hundred and fifty years, and only disap- 
peared within living memory. So grateful, indeed, was the 
idea of the tag in its quiddity that a gradual extension of 
its elementary principles became a distinguishing charac- 
teristic of Post-Restoration dramaturgy. In process of time 
tags were not only appended to intermediate acts 1 but to 
intermediate scenes. In this happy way terminal speech 
was rounded to a close, and the well-graced actor given 
opportunity to make effective exit. Tags of this secondary 
order were mostly in rhyme, and in prose comedies and 
blank-verse tragedies told by contrast. Now and again the 
poet fashioned a brilliant couplet, and one at least has gained a 
widespread popularity, that with which Congreve concludes 
the third act of The Mourning Bride : — 

Heaven has no rage, like love to hatred turned, 
Nor hell a fury, like a woman scorned. 

Only a well-seasoned actor could exploit the idea to its 
fullest possibilities, and thus it is that what was perhaps the 
most effective of all intermediate tags occurs at the end of 
the third act of Cibber's comedy, The Comical hovers (1707), 
where Florimel says : — 

So have I seen in tragick scenes, a lover 
With dying eyes his parting pains discover, 
While the soft Nymph looks back to view him far 
And speaks her anguish with her Handkercher. 
Again they turn, still ogling as before, 
Till each gets backward to the distant Door ; 
Then, when the last, last look their grief betrays, 
The act is ended, and the Musick plays. 

The humour of this travesty lay in the fact that as Florimel 
delivered the lines he and Celadon suited the action to the 
word, gradually backing towards the proscenium doors. No 
sooner was the last line uttered than they made rapid simul- 
taneous departure. By this period, the meridian of the 

1 The Gentleman Dancing Master (167 3), passim ,• Lee's Nero, Emperor of Rome (1675) 
and The Rival Queens (1677) ; D'Urfey's The Fond Husband (1676) ; Dryden's Troilus 
and Cressida (1679). 

184 The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms 

Augustan era, the tag had attained its full development. In 
the plays of Mrs. Centlivre, tags not only conclude interme- 
diate scenes, 1 but are occasionally bestowed upon characters 
which leave the stage in the middle of a scene. Little by 
little, however, as the sense of realism grew and stage rhetoric 
began to lose its hold, these extensions of the fundamental 
principle wasted away, until nothing was left but the final 
aphoristic tag. 2 

We come now to the sturdy persistence of a convention 
whose roots were firmly embedded in later Elizabethan 
comedy, a convention essentially Shakespearean, although 
largely the prerogative of the young eyases and their especial 
private-theatre drama: the principle of the neatly led-up-to 
terminal dance. One finds the germinal idea in A Mid- 
summer Night's Dream and Much Ado About Nothings but for 
its flowering one has to turn to the prevailing scheme of 
dramatic construction at the Blackfriars a year or two later, to 
comedies like Sir Giles Goosecap and May Day. At a subse- 
quent period the occasional concluding dance crystallized 
into a regular convention at the private theatres by way of 
compensation for the exclusion of the public-theatre " Jig ", 
whose characteristics were too gross for a refined audience. 
Sometimes when a principle was well established, no refer- 
ence was made to its observance. In the Caroline period, 
absence of stage-directions cannot be taken to imply that the 
terminal dance was not regularly given. In some cases an 
intelligent reading of the text will prove obedience to the 
ruling law. Thus, in Shirley's The Lady of Pleasure^ as acted 
at the Cockpit in 1635, no terminal direction occurs, but Sir 
Thomas Bornwell finishes by saying : — 

Our pleasures cool. Music! and when our ladies 
Are tired with active motion, to give 
Them rest, in some new rapture to advance 
Full mirth, our souls shall leap into a dance. 

1 Cf. The Provoked Husband (1727), v. 2, end, where Lady Townly has a rhyming 
tag of six lines. 

2 Dutton Cook dwells on the essentially British characteristics of the tag, and 
notes its absence from the foreign stage. See his A Book of the Play, Chapter on 
" Epilogues". 

The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms 185 

The preservation, in comedy, of this terminal dance by 
the characters after the Restoration led, if not to sameness of 
plot, at least to sameness of denouement. There could be no 
footing it at the end unless wedding bells were imminent 
or a truce declared to the game of cross-purposes. It took 
some moral courage on the part of the dramatist to flout 
routine and run counter to popular desire; but on occasion 
a scheme of plot was devised which precluded the possibility 
of the rejoicings of dance at the close. 1 A typical case in 
point was Congreve's second comedy, The Double Dealer, as 
produced at Drury Lane in 1694. One wonders whether 
the initial ill-success of the play was in anywise owing to the 
necessary elimination of the regulation dance. It may be 
that that great baby the Public pouted over being deprived 
of its toy. Colour is given to this idea by the fact that the 
dance was restored to its pride of place in Congreve's two 
later comedies. 

In the last act of The Wild Gallant (1 663), Dry den makes 
quaint allusion to the popularity of the practice. Isabella 
says, " Come, Nuncle, 'tis in vain to hold out now 'tis past 
remedy : Tis like the last act of a Play, when people must 
marry ; and if Fathers will not consent then, they should 
throw Oranges at 'em from the Galleries; why should you 
stand offand keep us from a Dance ?" Dryden could afford to 
risk the suggestion on this occasion, because Nunkey relents 
and the play ends with the usual dance. In point of delight- 
ing the many-headed beast with the expected, Tragedy was 
at a serious disadvantage ; but the chances are that when 
the sterner Muse inspired the bill, a jig was given after 
the epilogue. On 7 March, 1666-7, when Pepys went to 
Lincoln's Inn Fields to see Caryl's new tragedy, The English 
Princess; or the Death of Richard the Third, he records : 

To the duke's playhouse, where little Miss Davis did dance a 
jig after the end of the play, in boy's clothes; and the truth is 3 
there is no comparison between Nell's dancing the other day at 

1 So far as one can judge from the absence of textual indications the final dance 
was omitted in Otway's Friendship in Fashion and The Soldier's Fortune, although given 
in his version of The Cheats of Scapin. 

1 86 The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms 

the king's house in boy's clothes and this, this being infinitely 
beyond the other. 

As time went on, writers of comedy were hard put to it 
to lend variety to the terminal dance, and at the same time 
effect the usual neatness of dovetailing. Pressure from 
without, however, was never serious, for the public rarely 
wearied of the regulation country dance by all the characters. 
-Even when the eighteenth century had got well under 
"* .weigh, one finds the country dance written into the last 
act of many plays, notably of Mrs. Centlivre's The Platonick 
Lady (1706) and The Wonder (17 14). One of the earliest 
departures from routine was made by Shadwell in The 
Sullen hovers (1668), where a clever boy was introduced 
made up as Punchinello, who danced so well in character 
that good Master Pepys wrote of it in his whole-souled 
way as "the best that ever anything was done in the world." 
Exactly thirty years later Farquhar introduced "an Irish 
entertainment of three Men and three Women, dressed 
after the Fingallian Fashion " into his Drury Lane comedy, 
Love and a Bottle. This was in all probability a dance. 1 Subse- 
quently the masquerade dance had some little vogue. One 
finds it introduced at the close of Cibber and Vanbrugh's 
long popular comedy, The Provoked Husband (1727), as 
also in The Miser in 1732. It gives no room for surprise 
that the latter is the only example of the terminal dance in 
Fielding, seeing that the convention was then seriously on 
the wane. It seems to have preserved its popularity much 
longer on the Dublin stage than in London. Writing of 
Henry Brown, the actor-manager of Smock Alley in 1 758- 
60, one of the ablest comedians of his time, John O'Keeffe 
says : 

Brown's best parts were Perez, the Copper Captain; Don John 
in The Chances ; Benedick, Bayes, Sir John Restless, and Barnaby 
Brittle. At those times, in Ireland, every comedy and comic opera 
ended with a country dance by all the characters, which had a 
charming and most exhilarating effect, both to the dancers and 

1 Thirty years later a certain Fingallian Dance enjoyed great popularity on the 
Dublin staoje. 

The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms 187 

the lookers-on. A particular tune, when he danced, was called 
"Brown's Rant". In the course of the dance, as he and his 
partner advanced to the lamps at the front of the stage, he had a 
peculiar step which he quaintly tipped off to advantage ; and the 
audience always expecting this, repaid him with applause. 1 

One interesting item of evidence points to the fact that by 
1776, so far as the London stage was concerned, the vogue 
of the terminal dance had wholly disappeared. John Bell in 
that year issued an edition of standard plays "as performed 
at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane," and "regulated from 
the Prompt-Books by permission of the Managers, by 
Mr. Hopkins, Prompter." The reprints of The Provoked 
Husband, Love Makes a Man and The Miser indicate in each 
case by inverted commas the omission of the terminal dance, 
and of all dialogue leading up to or referring to it. Can it be 
that specialization of function was once more showing its 
potency, and that the players looked upon it as infra digni- 
tatem to foot it ? 2 

In the English theatres of the seventeenth century there 
does not appear to have been any official whose duties 
exactly corresponded to those of the Orator of the contem- 
porary French stage. 3 Indeed, but for a chance simile, we 
should be wholly unaware that the custom of giving out the 
next play and the day of acting originated in Pre-Restora- 
tion times. In the Folio edition of Beaumont and Fletcher's 
works, published in 1647, one finds some preliminary lines 
by H. Moseley, entitled "The Stationer," which begin : — 

As after th' Epilogue there comes some one 
To tell spectators what shall next be shown ; 
So here am I. 

If evidence as to the continuance of the practice in 
Restoration days is equally meagre, it is none the less 
satisfactory. Once more the invaluable Pepys comes nobly 
to our rescue. On 15 September, 1 668, the diarist paid a 

1 O'Keeffe's Recollections, i. p. 49. 

2 For a suggestive French analogy, see V. Fournel, Curiosite's The'atrales, p. 134. 

3 For an interesting account of the duties of the Orator, with details of some dis- 
tinguished holders of the office, see Mantzius, A History of Theatrical Art, iv. pp. 87-91. 
Cf. A. Bouchard, La Langue Tbeatrale, p. 20 under "annonce". 

1 8 8 The Persistence of Elizabethan Conventionalisms 

visit to the Theatre Royal to see Dryden's indifferent new 
comedy, The Ladies a la Mode. He is careful to record that 
when Beeston came on at the end to announce a repetition 
of the piece on the following day both he and the audience 
"fell a-laughing," which was not surprising, for thin as the 
house was then, it was likely to be thinner at subsequent 
performances. But one wonders what Moliere's comrades 
would have said if he, as Orator, had gone over so frankly 
to the enemy. 

Before the days of newspaper advertisements and regu- 
lated dramatic criticism these oral announcements were of 
manifold utility. So far as new productions were concerned, 
they relieved author and player alike of the burden of 
uncertainty. Assuming that the play was heard out to the 
(often bitter) end, its fate could be determined by the degree 
of acceptance with which the announcement of its repetition 
was received. Thus, when, after the first performance of 
the pseudo-Shakespearean play of Vortigern at Drury Lane 
on 2 April, 1 796, Barrymore came on to announce its repeti- 
tion, the uproar was so great that he found it impossible to 
gain a hearing. Even when John Kemble came forward 
immediately afterwards to give out 'The School for Scandal 
for the following Monday, the audience for long refused to 
listen to him, thinking he was anxious to plead the cause of 
the spurious play. But, like the ringing of church bells on 
Sundays, the practice of giving out plays long survived the 
necessity which called it into being. In France, where an 
almost equal conservatism reigned, the office of Orator was 
abolished in 1793. 1 In the United Kingdom the custom of 
giving out the play survived for another half century. With 
it passed away the last of the Elizabethan conventionalisms. 

1 Victor Fournel, Curiosites The'dtrales, p. 130. 

Irish Players at Oxford in 1677 

Irish Players at Oxford in 1677 

Although much given in remoter times to the acting of 
Latin plays, Oxford, up to a period within living memory, 
was remarkable for its profound distrust of the professional 
player. To win a patient hearing from the University in 
Elizabethan days was so notable an achievement that the 
fact that Hamlet had been acted there by the Globe company 
shortly after its first production was proudly blazoned on 
the title-page of one of the early quartos. For long the 
visits of the London players were confined to a few days in 
the summer during that Saturnalian period known as "the 
Act". Fixed to begin on the first Monday after 7 July, 
the Act consisted of the ultimate, but merely ceremonious 
exercises for the degrees of Master of Arts and Doctor of 
the Faculties. It was a period marked by relief of tension, 
when the Terrae Filii were allowed to crack their coarse, 
often stupid, jokes, and to afford academic precedent for the 
quips and cranks of Bones and Massa Johnson. After the 
puritanical repressions of the interregnum the Act never 
wholly recovered its joyousness, but in July, 1661, "to 
spite the Presbyterians," the players were allowed to return. 
Unfortunately, the new histrionic conditions which came in 
with the Restoration brought a seriously disturbing element 
into the almost monastic seclusion of the University. In 
journeying to Oxford to play twice daily on a stage erected 
in the yard of the King's Arms at Halywell, the Red Bull 
company brought with them several actresses, the first ever 
seen at the University, and the innovation caused much 
troubling of the waters. Writes Anthony Wood : "These 
players, wherein women acted (among which was Roxilana, 
married to the Earl of Oxon.), made the scholars run mad, 
run after them, later ill courses — among which Hyde of 
Allsoul's, A.B., afterwards hanged." 1 Under the circum- 

1 The Life and Times of Anthony Wood, antiquary of Oxford, 163 2-1695, described 
by himself, collected and edited by Andrew Clark, i. 405-6. 

192 Irish Players at Oxford in 1677 

stances it is not surprising to find that for a considerable 
period no further visits of the players were permitted. At 
last, however, in July, 1669, the Duke's company from 
Lincoln's Inn Fields were allowed to attend the Act, and 
by their performances in the Guildhall Yard cleared the 
respectable sum of £ 1 , 500. One is not astonished to learn 
of the amount, when one also learns from Wood that "the 
scholars pawn'd books, blankets, bedding to see them." 1 

A few years later it became customary for the King's 
players from the Theatre Royal, Bridges Street, to visit 
Oxford in the summer, and to signalize their advent by 
addressing the University in a prologue written by Dryden 
and generally spoken by Hart. But in 1 674 their behaviour 
during their sojourn was so reprehensible that further visits 
were forbidden. They had already been punished in their 
pockets, for, on 2 8 July, 1 674, we find Humphrey Prideaux, 
writing to John Ellis : 

The players parted from us with small gains, not having gained so 
much, after all things payed, to make a divident of 10/ to the chiefe 
sharers ; which I hope will give them noe encouragement to come 
again. Neither, I suppose, will the University for the future permit 
them here, if they can be kept out, since they were guilty of such 
great rudenesses before they left us, going about the town in the 
night breakeing of windows, and committeing many other unpar- 
donable rudenesses. 2 

But the Act was shorn of more than half its gaiety by the 
absence of the players, and the town soon longed to have 
them back. Ill disposed to pardon those who had offended 
so deeply, James, first Duke of Ormond, who had been 
Chancellor since August, 1 669, eventually saw a way out of 
the difficulty. In 1677, when he was also Lord Lieutenant 
of Ireland, he solved the problem by bringing across the 
Channel the first Irish troupe of players that had ever visited 
England, a troupe long under considerable indebtedness to 
him for his patronage. These Irish players hailed from the 
Dublin Drury Lane, or, in other words, from that Theatre 

1 Wood, ii. 165. 

2 Letters of Humphrey Prideaux to John Ellis (Camden Society, 1875), p. 5. 

Irish Players at Oxford in 1677 193 

Royal, Smock Alley, which had been built and opened by 
John Ogilby, the histriographer, in 1662. Very little now 
is known concerning them; nothing, indeed, of any conse- 
quence save that Joseph Ashbury was their leader. Born in 
London in 1638, Ashbury was related, through his mother, 
to Sir Walter Raleigh, and, as an ensign, had fought in 
Ireland under Ormonde in the closing months of Oliver 
Cromwell's rule. Chetwood, the prompter, who saw him 
on the stage in his extreme old age — in or about 17 18 — 
was highly pleased with his acting : 

His Person was of an advantageous Height, well proportioned and 
manly ; and, notwithstanding his great Age, erect ; a Countenance 
that demanded a reverential Awe, a full and meaning Eye, piercing, 
tho' not in its full Lustre; and yet I have seen him read Letters, and 
printed Books, without any Assistance from Art ; a sweet-sounding 
manly Voice, without any Symptoms of his Age in hisSpeech. Ihave 
seen him acquit himself in the Part of Care/ess in the Committee so 
well, that his Years never struck upon Remembrance. And his 
Person, Figure, and Manner in Don Quixote were inimitable. The 
Use of a short Cloak in former Fashions on the Stage seem'd habitual 
to him, and in Comedy he seemed to wear it in Imagination, which 
often produced Action, tho' not ungraceful, particular and odd to 
many of the Audience ; yet in Tragedy those Actions were left off, 
and every Motion manly, great, and proper. 1 

Notwithstanding the remarkable picturesqueness of its 
annals, the Dublin Stage has been from first to last painfully 
derivative and parasitic. It is only within the last decade 
that Ireland has set herself to repair this fault and to lay the 
foundations of a national drama. But it may be noted that by 
the time of the visit of the Irish players to Oxford in 1677, 
Smock Alley had already acquired some little reputation 
as an originating theatre. In 1663, Katharine Philips's 
tragedy, Pompey, had been produced there under distin- 
guished auspices ; and in 1 67 1 and 1 674 two tragi-comedies 
from the pen of John Dancer, an accomplished servitor of 
the Duke of Ormonde, had won some acceptance. All 
three were taken from the French, Pompey and Nicomede 

1 W. R. Chetwood, A General History of the Stage, etc. (London, 1749), p. 85. 

194 Irish Players at Oxford in 1677 

from Corneille, and Agrippa, King of Alba from Quinault. 
Unfortunately, history is silent as to what the Irish players 
presented at Oxford, but, although audiences at the Act 
favoured comedy rather than tragedy, it seems not unlikely, 
all things considered, that one (or both) of Dancer's plays 
was given during their stay. One matter is reasonably certain 
— Ormonde is not likely to have hazarded his reputation as 
a man of taste and judgment by bringing to the University 
under his aegis a troupe of barnstormers. It is necessary 
to emphasize this point, because, as will shortly be seen, the 
greatest English dramatic poet of the time, a genius whose 
pronouncements on things literary and dramatic still have 
potency, saw fit, in his partisanship, to bespatter the Smock 
Alley troupe with ridicule. If the Dublin players were really 
as vile as Dryden makes them out to be, it is singular that 
no inkling of their inefficiency has come down to us. Even 
in their earliest days, when some crudities might naturally 
have been expected, skilled opinion preponderated in their 
favour. Writing to Poliarchus from Dublin on 3 December, 
1662, only a month or two after Smock Alley was first 
opened, Orinda, "the matchless", says : 

But I refer it wholly to you and will now change my subject, and 
tell you that we have plays here in the newest mode, and not ill- 
acted ; only the other day, when Othello was play'd, the Doge of 
Venice and all his Senators came upon the stage with Feathers in 
their Hats, which was like to have chang'd the Tragedy into a 
Comedy, but that the Moor and Desdemona acted their parts well. x 

" In the newest mode " doubtless meant " with scenery ". 
On previous 19 October, Orinda had informed the same 
correspondent, " we have a new Playhouse here, which in my 
opinion is much finer than D'Avenant's; but the Scenes are 
not yet made." As no consideration had then been given 
throughout Europe to the question of accurate costuming, 
we may assume thatOrinda's "with Feathers in their Hats" 
is a euphemism somewhat akin to Ibsen's "vineleaves in 
the hair." 

1 Katharine Philips, Letters of Orinda to Poliarchus, second edition, 1709. 

Irish Players at Oxford in 1677 *95 

Evidence as to the capacity of the Smock Alley players at 
a time nearer to their Oxford visit is to be found in Sir Ellis 
Leighton's letter to Arlington, under date 4 May, 1670, 
acquainting him of Lord Berkeley of Stratton, the new 
Viceroy's, first visit tp the Dublin theatre : 

Tuesday, in the afternoon, his Excellency went to the Theatre, 
where The Loyal Subject by Beaumont and Fletcher, first played in 
16 1 8, was acted. The house was full of the ladies and nobility in 
town. The actors, most of them, act very well. They want good 
clothes. But his Excellency's bounty and the advantage they will 
have by his countenance will soon make both them and the scenes 
very fine. 1 

This opinion, in a'letter written to Arlington at the same 
period, his Excellency confirmed. For any raggedness and 
disorganization that then existed there was very good reason, 
for Berkeley's highly unpopular predecessor, John, Lord 
Robarts, had silenced the Smock Alley players for some time, 
and left them in a state of painful uncertainty as to their 
future livelihood. 2 

Nothing was lacking to the success of the Irish players 
at Oxford but the presence of their patron. According to 
Carte, Ormonde had purposely abstained from attending 
the Act so as to avoid the necessity of conferring honorary 
degrees upon persons he considered unworthy of the distinc- 
tion. Be that as it may, we find Thomas Dixon, on 1 August, 
1677, writing to his friend, Sir Daniel Fleming, setting forth 

the Duke of Ormond, our Chancellor, was expected at the Act, 
as may appear from the lower end of the Friday scheme, but he did 
not come ; yet we look for him still this week or the next. His 
players, who were with us at the Act, and twenty days after, carried, 
it is said, 600/. or 700/. clear gains out of Oxford. They acted 
much at the same rate the King's and Duke's used to do. 3 

A comparison of the reputed profits of the Irish players 
in 1677 with the reputed profits of the Red Bull company 

1 Cal. State Papers, Ireland, Charles II, p. 327. 

2 Gilbert's History of the City of Dublin (1861), ii. p. 68. 

3 Hist. MSS. Comm. Report, 12, App., Part vii. p. 139 (MSS. of S. H. Le Fleming, 
Esq., of Rydal Hall). Wood is silent regarding the visit. 

196 Irish Players at Oxford in 1677 

in 1 66 1 5 assuming that both acted the same number of times, 
would give the impression that the former met with but 
indifferent success. It is doubtful, however, what credence 
may be placed in hearsay evidence of this order. The only 
sound inference that can be drawn is connected with another 
matter. Seeing that it had been customary before this, as 
it was for thirty-five years after, for the players attending 
the Act to perform twice daily, it seems reasonably assured 
that the Smock Alley company followed the old routine. 
Apparently, on Colley Cibber's showing, it was not until 
Cato was acted at Oxford by the Drury Lane players in 
1 7 1 2 that the precedent was disregarded. Apropos of this 
visit, he writes : 

It had been a custom for the Comedians, while at Oxford, to act 
twice a day ; the first play ending every morning before the college 
hoursof dining, and the other never to break into the time of shutting 
their gates in the evening. This extraordinary labour gave all the 
hired actors a title to double pay, which at the act in King William's 
time I had myself accordingly received there. But the present 
managers considering, that by acting only once a day, their spirits 
might be fresher for every single performance, and that by this means 
they might be able to fill up the term of their residence without the 
repetition of their best and strongest plays; and as their theatre was 
contrived to hold a full third more than the usual form of it had done, 
one house well filled might answer the profits of two but moderately 
taken up ; being enabled too, by their late success at London, to 
make the journey pleasant and profitable to the rest of their society, 
— they resolved to continue to them their double pay, notwith- 
standing this new abatement of half their labour. 1 

Double pay for a week or two at a time when the theatres 
were closed came like manna in the wilderness to the London 
players; and one can conceive their feelings on being ousted 
from their pride of place by a cry of players from over sea. 
Due allowance must be made for all this when we come 
to consider Dryden's virulent attack on the Smock Alley 

After the summer of 1 677, no further visits of players to 
Oxford can be traced for three years. In the middle of May, 

1 Apology for the Life of Mr. Colley Cibber y Cotncdian, Chap. xiv. 

Irish Players at Oxford in 1677 197 

1680, we find Ormonde writing from Dublin to John Fell, 
Bishop of Oxford, informing him that he had recommended 
a set of players to the acceptance of the University for the 
period of the Act, but that he thought the inconveniences 
they brought in their train so grave that he would be glad of 
an excuse, provided no other were admitted, and he besought 
his lordship to convey his mind to the Vice-Chancellor. 1 In 
a letter written on 22 June following, the Bishop replied: 

As to the other affair of comedians, the King's players having 
had cold reception from Mr Vice Chancellor in their desires to be 
received here this Act, obtained a solemn recommendation from His 
Majesty, and that not taking the desired effect they have procured 
a second letter. What the event will be I know not, but I think if 
the Vice Chancellor be forced to receive them, he will so shorten 
their time as may discourage them from coming on such terms. 2 

Discouragement proved of no avail, for we find Anthony 
Wood recording that in July, 1680, "the King's players 
began to act in my brother Robert's tennis court." Whether 
it was that the players feared to offend Ormonde, no caustic 
allusion was made to the visit of the Smock Alley company 
in Dryden's introductory prologue 3 as spoken before the 
performance of Lee's tragedy of Sophonisba, or Hannibal 's 
Overthrow. That was reserved for a later and less apposite 
occasion. In the succeeding autumn, the Duke of York 
left London for a lengthened stay in Edinburgh, and many 
of the players followed in his train. To this circumstance 
allusion is made in the prologue to Crowne's tragedy of 
Tbyestes, which was apparently produced by the prentice 
hands of the Drury Lane company in the Lent of 1681. 4 
One consequence of the defection was that when the King's 
players attended the Parliament at Oxford in March, 168 1, 
they were in a highly crippled state. It was thought better 
to make confession of their weakness at the outset, and 
Dryden took advantage of the opportunity to defame the 

1 Ormond Papers, Vol. v. p. 320. 2 Ibid, v. p. 338. 

3 For which see Dryden's Poetical Works (Globe edition, 1904), p. 442. It was first 
published in the Miscellany Poems of 1 684, and afterwards reprinted, with slight variations, 
in the quarto of Sophonisba issued in 1685. 

4 The play was published in April or May of the same year. 

198 Irish Players at Oxford in 1677 

Irish players. Here is the greater part of his inaugural 
prologue : — 

Discord and plots, which have undone our age, 

With the same ruin have o'erwhelmed the stage. 

Our House has suffered in the common woe, 

We have been troubled with Scotch rebels too. 

Our brethren are from Thames to Tweed departed, 

And of our sisters all the kinder-hearted 

To Edenborough gone, or coached or carted. 

With bonny bluecap there they act all night 

For Scotch half-crown, in English three-pence hight. 

One nymph to whom fat Sir John Falstaff's lean, 

There with her single person fills the scene. 

Another, with long use and age decayed, 

Dived here old woman, and rose there a maid. 

Our trusty door-keepers of former time 

There strut and swagger in heroic rhyme. 

Tack but a copper lace to drugget suit, 

And there 's a hero made without dispute ; 

And that which was a capon's tail before 

Becomes a plume for Indian emperor. 

But why should I these renegades describe, 
When you yourselves have seen a lewder tribe ? 
Teague 1 has been here, and to this learned pit 
With Irish action slandered English wit; 
You have beheld such barbarous Macs appear 
As merited a second massacre ; 
Such as, like Cain, were branded with disgrace, 
And had their country stamped upon their face. 
When strollers durst presume to pick your purse, 
We humbly thought our broken troop not worse. 
How ill soe'er our action may deserve, 
Oxford 's a place where wit can never sterve. 2 

Notwithstanding that the Drury Lane players gave 
Saunders' new tragedy, Tamerlane the Great, before the 
King at this period, they met with a very indifferent 

1 The generic name for the Irish in the seventeenth century. It is so used in 
Shirley's Hyde Park (1632), iii. 1. 

2 Dryden's Poetical frforks (Globe edition), p. 450. First published in the Miscellany 
Poems of 1684. 

Irish Players at Oxford in 1677 J 99 

reception. When they returned again to the University, 
probably for the Act in the ensuing summer, Dryden girded 
mordantly at the "busy senates", whose presence might 
possibly have been of some slight advantage to the neigh- 
bourhood : 

Whereas we cannot much lament our loss 
Who neither carried back nor brought one cross. 
We looked what representatives would bring, 
But they helped us, — just as they did the King. 1 

It probably never occurred to Dryden, except as a painful 
afterthought, that in abusing the Irish players he was finding 
serious fault with that high taste in dramatic matters for 
which the University was remarkable, a taste which he 
himself had extravagantly eulogized in some of his earlier 
prologues. 2 These " barbarous Macs " who had " slandered 
English wit " were the especial favourites of the Chancellor, 
and had entertained the University for three weeks on end. 
Is it likely that an audience, for whose judgment Cibber 
had so profound an esteem, would have endured for so long 
a time a troupe of barnstormers ? Hearken to Cibber's 
testimony : 

A great deal of that flashy wit, and forced humour, which had 
been the delight of our metropolitan multitude, was only rated there 
at its bare intrinsic value ; applause was not to be purchased there, 
but by the true sterling, the sal atticum of a genius; unless where 
the skill of the actor passed it upon them with some extraordinary 
strokes of nature. Shakspeare and Jonson had there a sort of Classical 
authority; for whose masterly scenes they seemed to have as implicit 
a reverence as formerly for the ethics of Aristotle; and were as incap- 
able of allowing moderns to be their competitors as of changing their 
academical habits for gaudy colours or embroidery. 3 

For the aspersions cast upon her players Ireland took 
a noble revenge in contributing many able recruits to the 
English stage. Blot out the records of Wilks, Quin, Peg 
Woffington, Spranger Barry, Macklin and Miss O'Neill 
from English theatrical annals, and you rob them of much 

1 Vide ibid, p. 449. 

2 Note especially his Prologue to The Silent Woman in 1673 (Globe edition), p. 420. 

3 Cibber's Apology, Chap. xiv. 

2oo Irish Players at Oxford in 1677 

of their picturesqueness and not a little of their glory. But 
it is curious to note for how long after the Oxford visit of 
1677, Irish players came over, not in companies, but as single 
spies. After a lapse of sixty-five years, in August, 1742, 
another Smock Alley company sailed for Liverpool "in order 
to entertain the nobility and gentry at Preston at the Jubilee, 
which is said to be held there once in 20 years." 1 But it 
was not until May, 1903, that the first organized troupe of 
Irish players was seen in London. Happily at that time 
the critics, sitting in judgment on the acting of the Irish 
National Theatre Society at the Queen's Gate Hall, were 
able to turn one of Dryden's strictures inside out, and to tell 
the Abbey Players (as they are now more familiarly known) 
that they "had their country stamped upon their face." 

1 Faulkner's Dublin Journal for 24 August, 1742, as cited in Broadbent's Annals of 
the Liverpool Stage, p. 18. 

Louis XIVs Scene Painters 

Louis XIV's Scene Painters 

French theatrical history, generally so luminous, so accu- 
rate, so painstaking, has blundered terribly in its records of 
two great scene painters, father and son. By some extra- 
ordinary initial error, never yet detected, the stories of 
Gaspare and Carlo Vigarani have been fused into one, and 
a composite figure created as harmful in its way as the 
Monster in Frankenstein. Truth now demands that this 
artificial being, all compact of falsity, should be dissolved 
into its original elements. 

One must needs preface this narrative by pointing out 
that the scene painter perse is purely a product of latter-day 
specialization. In remoter times the artist seldom worked 
in a single medium or confined himself to the one class of 
work. Thus it is that if you seek the history of the great 
scene painters you will have to look for it in the records of 
the great architects and sculptors and of the masters in 
fresco and in oils. Begin at the Renaissance and you will 
find that the progress of stage mounting is summed up in 
the careers of men like Bramante, Peruzzi, Aristotile da San 
Gallo, Ferdinando Bibiena, Inigo Jones and the Chevalier 
Servandoni. Half a century or so ago the superfine art 
critics sniffed when Stanfield and Roberts were made Royal 
Academicians. They did not know, poor creatures, that 
infinitely greater men had been associated with the theatrical 
paint frame. The fact had escaped them that in the glorious 
days when the artist recognized but one art, and made no 
nice distinctions, the divine Raphael had painted scenery 
for the court of Pope Leo X. l 

It is in keeping with the story of that art upon which he 
left his impress that Gaspare Vigarani should have pursued 
the calling of an architect and engineer. Born at Reggio 
nell' Emilia about the year 1586, his services were much in 
demand in his native country during a very considerable 

1 Cf. The Elizabethan Playhouse and other Studies (First Series), p. 116. 

204 Louis XIV s Scene Painters 

period. Distinction, however, did not begin to crown his 
career until he was long past middle age. In 1 652 he went 
to Mantua to superintend the fete given in honour of 
the coming of the Archduke Ferdinand and of Francesco 
Sigismondo, brothers of the Duchess Isabella Chiara. Two 
years later his services were requisitioned by Francesco I, 
of Modena, in connexion with the celebrations held over 
the Duke's marriage with Lucrezia Barberini. While there 
he designed and superintended the building of a fine theatre, 
subsequently taken as the model of the vast Theatre des 
Machines erected in the Tuileries. 1 

Early in 1660 Giacomo Torelli, the great French court 
scene painter and theatrical wonder-worker of his age (was 
he not once attacked at Venice by bravoes as an emissary of 
the devil?), became smitten with home-sickness, and, having 
amassed a comfortable fortune, decided to retire to his native 
city of Fano. The Grand Monarch, nothing if not connois- 
seur, and keenly appreciative of Torelli's services, regretted 
this decision, and all unwillingly cast about him for a suit- 
able substitute. The result was that the Duke of Modena, 
on hearing of Louis' dilemma, sent him old Gaspare 

Torelli's successor had some unenviable characteristics 
which the circumstances of the hour immediately brought 
to the surface. Although he was an artist of commanding 
ability and had little reason to dread comparison, Gaspare 
was consumed by an unreasoning jealousy. He determined 
so far as it lay in his power to stamp out the memory of 
his illustrious predecessor. Brought in haste to France to 
officiate at the Louvre in connexion with Cavalli's opera of 
Serse, whose performance had been arranged by Mazarin in 
celebration of the King's marriage, Gaspare found there was 
no time to provide the necessary scenery. The opera had 
six new intermedii and called for elaborate mounting. Some 
old scenery by Torelli remained available and might have 

1 Tiraboschi, Notizie di Pittori, Scultori, Incisori e Arcbitetti, natii degli State del 
Seren. Sig. Duca di Modena (Modena, 1786), p. 350 ; also A. Ademollo, / Primi Fasti 
Delia Musica Italiana a Parlgl (1645-62), Milan, no date, p. jj note. 

Louis XIV s Scene Painters 205 

served at a pinch, but Gaspare refused all compromise. 
Before a court habituated to a high degree of scenic luxury 
Cavalli's opera had to be performed on 2 2 November, 1 6 60, 
with no more fitting background than a number of rich 
tapestry hangings. * 

Such was the elder Vigarani's jealousy of his great pre- 
decessor that it did not suffice to him merely to avoid using 
any of Torelli's old scenes and machines. He had determined 
upon starting with a clean slate, and had made up his mind 
to destroy all the relics of his eminent compatriot. An 
opportunity soon came. It is revealed to us by the Register 
of Lagrange that in October, 1660, the theatre of the Petit 
Bourbon was demolished, much to the discomfiture of 
Moliere whose company acted there, and who had difficulty 
in getting another asylum. On obtaining leave to act in the 
Palais Royal, the great comedian begged that all the audito- 
rium fittings and stage accessories of the old house should 
be granted him. To this the King graciously consented, but 
meanwhile "le Sr. de Vigarani, machiniste du Roy, nouvel- 
lement arrive a Paris " had taken possession of the old 
scenery and machinery, under pretext of turning them to 
advantage in the palace of the Tuileries, and that Torelli's 
memory should be blotted out, had lost no time in consign- 
ing the whole to the flames. 2 

Concerning a remarkable feature of the Ballet of the 
Seasons at Fontainebleau in July, 1661, Madame de la 
Fayette writes : 

L'on repetoit alors a Fontainebleau, un ballet que le roi et 
Madame danserent, et fut le plus agreable que ait jamais ete, soit 
par le lieu 011 il se dansoit, qui etait le bord de l'etang, ou pour 
l'lnvention qu'on avait trouvee de faire venir du bout d'une allee 
le theatre tout entier charge d'une infinite de personnes qui 
s'approchoient insensiblement, et qui faisoient une entree en dan- 
sant sur le theatre. 3 

1 Nuitter et Thoinan, Les Origines de VOpera Francais, Introd. pp. lviii-lxi. 

2 Nuitter et Thoinan, p. lxi. footnote ; see also Mantzius, History of Theatrical 
Art, iv. pp. 1 36-8. 

3 Ludovic Celler, Les Decors, les Costumes, et la Mise en Scene au Dix-Septieme Siecle, 
p. 123. 

206 Louis XIV s Scene Painters 

In the absence of indications to the contrary, one is justi- 
fied in supposing that this mysterious huge machine, which 
glided towards the audience with its freight of capering 
courtiers, and (like the ghost in The Corsican Brothers) con- 
trived to conceal its method of progression, one makes no 
doubt that this masterpiece of ingenuity was the work of 
Gaspare Vigarani. In association with his friend Amandini, 
Gaspare was at this time vigorously engaged upon the erec- 
tion of the grandiose Salle des Machines in the Tuileries, 
a court theatre which derived its title from the fact that it 
had been specially designed for the exploitation of striking 
spectacular effects. Nothing quite so vast and ornate had 
been seen in Modern Europe ; and the glories of the great 
TeatroFarnese of Parma were now to be eclipsed. Some idea 
of the immensity of the Salle des Machines may be derived 
from the measurements given by the Abbe de Pure. l The 
stage was 132 feet deep, and the height of the wings to the 
bottom of the sky borders was 24 feet. From the borders to 
the roof was an unseen space for the working of the scenes 
and machinery of some 37 feet. Below was a cellar 1 5 feet 
in depth. The width of the proscenium opening was 32 
feet. The auditorium was constructed on an equally vast 
scale. In height and breadth it was the same measurement, 
viz., 49 feet (not reckoning the space occupied by the lateral 
corridors) ; and its depth was 93 feet. The whole building 
was in the form of an ellipse. The auditorium held over 
seven thousand spectators, and was magnificently decorated 
with golden sculptures and allegorical paintings. The fres- 
coes on the ceiling had been designed by Le Brun and 
executed by Noel Coypel. 

To aid in the construction of the scenery and machinery 
Gaspare Vigarani brought from Italy his son Carlo, a bril- 
liant architect-mechanician whose notable work in France 
has, through the bungling of the historians, been entirely 
placed to his father's credit. 2 The Salle des Machines was 

1 Idie des spectacles anciens et nouveaux (1668), as cited at length by Pougin, 
Le Thehtre h V Exposition Universelle de 1889, pp. 62-3. 

2 For evidence of this confusion, see Germain Bapst Essai sur 1'Histoire du Thehtre, 
pp. 389-90; V. Fournel, Curiositcs The&trales y p. 275 Pougin, op. cit. p. 62; Nuitter 
et Thoinan, op. cit. passim. 

Louis XIV s Scene Painters 207 

duly inaugurated on 7 February, 1 662, by the performance 
of an Italian opera called Ercole Amante, which, after the 
approved manner of the time, was packed with surprising 
mechanical effects, among which swiftly changing scenery 
and descending clouds with living freights played a promi- 
nent part. 1 What rendered the occasion memorable was the 
appearance of the King and Queen on the stage in the pro- 
logue. The fifth scene, a finely conceived Inferno, long 
haunted the imagination of the Grand Monarch, and to 
get rid of the obsession His majesty finally commanded 
Moliere to compose Psyche for its further exploitation. One 
thinks in this connexion of Mr. Crummies and his famous 
pump and tubs. But the outstanding feature of Ercole 
Amante, if we are to place credence in the Abbe de Pure as 
chronicler, 2 was Carlo Vigarani's great machine, showing 
the apotheosis of Hercules and Beauty and their ascent to 
regions divine. This immense moving platform was 60 feet 
long by 40 broad, and to the astonishment of the vast audi- 
ence, bore upwards in easy progression all the members of 
the royal household, or no fewer than a hundred souls. 
One wonders more at the sublime confidence of the court 
than at the daring and the ingenuity of the great mechanist. 

Feeling the weight of years pressing upon him, and 
fully assured that none but his son would be his successor, 
Gaspare Vigarani took his farewell of the French court, and 
in June, 1 662, returned to Modena. 3 Out of gratitude for 
his strenuous labours Louis XIV wrote a warm letter of 
thanks and praise to the Grand Duke, a testimony of merit 
which has been preserved in the works of Tiraboschi. 4 The 
incident formed a fitting close to a memorable career ; and 
on 9 September, 1663, the elder Vigarani passed quietly 
away at Modena, aged about 77. 5 

Equal as the father and son were in merit, it cannot be 
gainsaid that the younger Vigarani was, par excellence, the 
great stage artificer of the golden days of Moliere. Hence 

1 Nuitter et Thoinan, pp. lxii-iii ; Celler, pp. 124-8. 

2 Pougin, op. cit. p. 62. Note that this is the first definite record of "le Sieur 
Charles Vigarany" in Paris. The exact date of his arrival is not readily determinable. 

3 Tiraboschi, op. cit. p. 354. 4 ibid. loc. cit. 5 ibid. 

20 8 Louis XIV s Scene Painters 

it is with feelings of pleasure and pride that one sets about 
redeeming his memory from the obscurity into which, 
through the irony of circumstance, it has fallen. A not 
inconspicuous figure amid the brilliant galaxy of a glorious 
era, Carlo Vigarani devoted his talents and the remainder 
of his days to the upholding of the French theatre. In due 
process of time he took out letters of naturalization and 
was appointed by royal warrant "inventeurdes machines des 
theatres, ballets, et festes royalles." 1 Ever a court favourite, 
he received from time to time many handsome presents from 
the king. In 1 664 he distinguished himself at Versailles by 
the notable scenic work done in connexion with the produc- 
tion of the PrincesseD' Elide. 2 The fashion of the times, based 
on a noxious Italian principle, ordained that the comedies 
of Moliere should be interspersed with costly interludes or 
allied with fantastic ballets ; an illusion-marring system all 
compact of painful artifice which made of the scene painter 
a man of equal importance with the dramatist. Thus the 
relationship of Inigo Jones to Ben Jonson at the court of 
Charles I was precisely the relationship of Carlo Vigarani to 
Moliere at the court of the Grand Monarch. The only real 
difference was that Jonson as masque-writer was helpless 
without his gorgeous scenery, whereas Moliere's court 
comedies could on occasion stand alone. 

It remains to be noted that Versailles at this period lacked 
possession of a permanent theatre, a difficulty which Vigarani 
easily surmounted (thanks to his royal master's fat purse) 
by erecting provisional stages as the occasion demanded. 
Very ornate and striking was the theatre constructed by him 
in the Park in 1668 for the production of George Dandin 
and he Triompbe de V Amour et de Bacchus. The sallewaslit 
by no fewer than thirty-two crystal chandeliers, which bore 
in all considerably over three hundred bougies and provided 
a dazzling spectacle. 3 

1 Bapst, p. 390, note i. The warrant was issued on 5 November, 1679. 

2 Celler, pp. 133-5. 

3 Bapst, p. 352; Celler, pp. 135-9. For Carlo Vigarani's work, at Versailles in 
connexion with the fetes of 1674, see Felibien, Les Divertissements de Versailles, donnezpar 
le Roy a toute sa Cour, au retour de la Conqueste de la Francbe Comte^ en V annee, 1 674, p. 85. 

Louis XIV 's Scene Painters 


In the mellow days of Le So/eil, performances in the Salle 
des Machines were few and far between, the vast auditorium 
having proved far from comfortable. There, however, was 
produced in 1671, with sumptuous mounting by Vigarani, 
the Psyche of Moliere and Corneille, a piece, as we have 
already noted, which owed its origin to the existence of an 
old Hell scene, stored away in the recesses of the Tuileries. 
It was in keeping that when Psyche was revived at the Palais 
Royal in 1678, Vigarani should again be responsible for its 
mounting. One recalls that a maquette^ or scene-model, of 
the second tableau of the second act, after Carlo's original 
design (now in the National Archives), was to be seen in the 
theatrical section at the Paris Exposition of 1 8 7 8 } Vigarani's 
scenic and mechanical work was not without its influence 
on the trend of English stage mounting in the Post-Restora- 
tion period. Shadwell not only adapted Psyche for the Duke's 
Theatre, but he made use of divers of the Italian's fantastic 
flying effects in his operatic perversion of The Tempest. 
With pardonable pride the Duke's players boasted in their 
epilogues that they had indulged their kind friends, the 
public, with a degree of scenic splendour only possible else- 
where to great monarchs with unfathomable purses. 2 

Little employed in the days of Louis XIV, the great Salle 
des Machines has a curious and, on the whole, disappointing 
history. Its memories survive in those technicalities of the 
coulisses, "cour " and "jardin ", readily recognizable as the 
Gallic analogues of our " O. P." and " P. S." 3 Built origin- 
ally to excite artificial emotion, this immense barrack of a 
theatre was the scene of many a realistic outburst in the 
stormy days of the Revolution. Before that, however, it 
had undergone a remarkable temporary transformation, 
the details of which afford some clue to the immensity of 
the building. When the Palais Royal was burnt down in 
1763, permission was given to its former occupants to 
remove, during the period of rebuilding, to the vast house 

1 Catalogue de V Exposition Theatrale y 1878, anon, (par Charles Nuitter), No. xx, 
p. 25. 

3 See especially the epilogue to Shadwell's Psyche. 
3 Georges Moynet, Trues et Decors, p. 26. 


210 Louis XIV s Scene Painters 

in the Tuileries. It hardly seems credible, but the story goes 
that the two architects employed succeeded in constructing 
an entire theatre the exact size of the old Palais Royal wholly 
on the stage of the Salle des Machines. The old auditorium, 
it appears, was partitioned off, and used as a magazine for 
scenery and properties. 1 

At the time of the foundation of the Academie Royale de 
Musique, Lully, the composer, had solemnly joined forces 
with Carlo Vigarani by a contract dated 23 August, 1672, 
but it is to be presumed that the architect-painter had 
already set about building the new Opera House in the rue 
de Vaugirard, where the Academie was to have its establish- 
ment. 2 This surmise is justified by the fact that the new 
house opened its doors on the ensuing 15 November with 
a pasticchio called Les Festes de V Amour et de Bacchus, for 
which Vigarani had provided the mounting. To the story 
of this theatre is attached a notable event, nothing less 
than the first state visit of a French monarch to a resort 
of the kind. Accompanied by a distinguished train, Louis 
XIV repaired on 27 April, 1675, to the rue de Vaugirard 
to see the Cadmus et Hermione of Quinault, that fine work 
which, according to the Gazette de France, was embellished 
"avec des machines et des decorations surprenantes dont 
on doit l'invention et la conduite au sieur Vigarani, gentil- 
homme Modenois." 3 

To the methods of scene painting in the latter half of the 
seventeenth century one is afforded some clue in the details 
of the work done in connexion with the production of Le 
Malade Imaginaire at Versailles in 1 674. For the premiere 
of Moliere's last comedy the scenery was painted by Simon 
and Rambour, two French artists who worked under the 
direction of Vigarani. Canvas was not favoured in those 
days, for the architectural backgrounds provided for the 
play were painted on paper which had been glued upon 
wooden frames. 4 This was distinctively an Italian system, 
and Italy has not yet wholly abandoned it. One recalls 
that when the Ruy Bias of Marchetti was performed at Her 

1 Pougin, p. 63. 2 Nuittcr ct Thoinan, pp. ?.8o-4. 3 ibid. p. 289. 4 Bapst, p. 391. 

Louis XIV s Scene Painters in 

Majesty's Theatre in November, 1877, the scenery was 
painted in Italy on sheets of paper by Magnani and sent 
over to be mounted on canvas. The effect was said at the 
time to be very pleasing. 1 

To enumerate all the various labours of the younger 
Vip-arani would be to give this sketch the air of a bald cata- 
logue, but one must not omit to record that he executed 
the scenery for the opera of Atys^ produced at the Palais 
Royal in 1676. His original design for the scene of the 
fifth act is preserved in the Mobilier National, and from it 
in 1878 was made, on the instruction of the Ministry of 
the Fine Arts, a second maquette for the theatrical section 
of the Paris Exposition of that year. 2 

In or about 1 679 Carlo Vigarani constructed for the King, 
in the Gardens of Versailles, an ingenious Water Theatre 
admitting of a great variety of striking aqueous effects ; 
its characteristics have been preserved in an engraving by 
Israel Sylvestre. Not long afterwards he was temporarily 
ousted from his pride of place at the Palais Royal, where 
Berain succeeded him as designer and Rivani as machinist. 3 
It is difficult to say exactly when he was reinstalled, but 
a record of the year 1 707 shows that at that period "le sieur 
Vigarany, machiniste de l'Opera" was in receipt of a salary 
of 6,000 livres per annum in his several capacities as inventor 
and superintendent of the machines of the theatres and the 
court. Not only that, but he enjoyed a third of the profits 
of the Opera, and must have held altogether a position of 
great emolument. 4 

Possibly had portraits of the two Vigaranis been preserved 
among other French theatrical memorabilia, the historians 
might not have made such a painful jumble of their records. 
But no portrait of either is known — and thereby hangs a 
tale. Some thirty-five years or so ago, when Charles Gamier 
was building that striking monument to his genius, The 
Grand Opera, his scheme of decoration included statuary. 

1 Percy Fitzgerald, The World Behind the Scenes (1881), p. 258. 

2 Catalogue de V Exposition Tbeatrale, No. xix, p. 25. 

3 Chouquet (Gustave), Histoire de la Musique Dramatique en France (1873), p. 320. 

4 M. J. Moynet, U En-vers du Theatre (1874), p. 279. 

212 Louis XIV s Scene Painters 

What more fitting subject for the chisel, thought he, than 
the Grand Monarque's scene-painter, the great Vigarani ? 
True, like all the rest of his race in his day, he knew of only 
one Vigarani, that composite being whom Clio, in a perverse 
hour, had blundered into creating. Still we must remember 
that it was Moliere and Lully's sublime artificer whom 
Gamier really had in his mind's eye. To Charles Nuitter, 
the erudite archivist of the Opera, he made application for 
a portrait of this genius, but none could be found. To get 
out of the difficulty Nuitter suggested — still confusing the 
two Vigaranis — that an ideal bust should be made, and that 
the sculptor should be instructed to bear in mind that his 
subject was an Italian of a peevish and narrow-minded 
disposition. He justified this description by the fact that 
(Gaspare) Vigarani had destroyed all the scenic work of his 
predecessor at the French court. The idea commended 
itself to Gamier and was carried out. 1 In this quaint way 
were the sins of the father visited on the son. 

1 Bapst, p. 390, note I. 

A Player-Friend of Hogarth 

A Player-Friend of Hogarth 

Jemmy Spiller was born in 1692. His father, a Gloucester- 
shire carrier, falling heir to a little money, apprenticed him 
to Mr. Ross, a landscape painter, under whom he acquired 
an elementary knowledge of art which afterwards stood him 
in good stead in "making-up". Becoming stage-struck 
after witnessing the atrocious efforts of a company of 
strollers, the headstrong lad broke his indentures and 
packed off with the player- folk. Like many another bril- 
liant comedian, he made but ill estimate of his powers, and 
was highly delighted on finding himself permitted by his 
companions to murder Alexander the Great and divers 
other heroic characters. Chance, however, soon took him 
to the metropolis, where his abilities were at once recognized 
and speedily diverted into the proper channel. Our first 
trace of him in the player's Mecca is at Drury Lane on 27 
December, 1709, when we find him playing Harlequin (an 
ordinary speaking part) in Mrs. Behn's farce of The Emperor 
of the Moon. His was an instance of an early marriage un- 
happy in its sequel. Shortly after his debut in the metropolis 
he espoused one Mrs. Elizabeth Thompson, characterized 
as " a pretty woman and a good actress, but rather vain and 
affected." At Drury Lane on 27 March, 17 10, Mr. and 
Mrs. Spiller figured in the bill as Boatswain and Lucy in 
Bickers taffe 's Burial; or Work for the Upholders. Already 
authors had begun to see the utility of writing parts to ex- 
ploit the young actor's rich vein of humour. One of these 
— Corporal Cuttum in Aaron Hill's farce, The Walking 
Statue — had been created by him on 9 January previously. 
Like most of the principal comedians of his time, Spiller 
was prominently identified with the annual performances 
given in the theatrical booths at the fairs. In the summer 
of 17 10 we find him appearing at Pinkethman's Booth at 
Greenwich, where he sustained, among other characters, 
Polonius and Bustapha in The Maid of the Mill, and became 

2 1 6 A Player-Friend of Hogarth 

so popular as to be accorded a benefit. During 17 12-3 he 
"created" several new characters at Drury Lane, notably 
Ananias in Hamilton's Petticoat Plotter, Smart in The Female 
Advocates, and Lawyer Foist in The Apparition. Late in 
1 7 14 he deserted old Drury for Rich's new theatre in 
Lincoln's Inn Fields, where he soon became quite indis- 
pensable. Among a great variety of parts sustained there 
during the following year were several original "creations", 
such as Crispin in The Perplexed Couple, Captain Debonair 
in Love in a Sack, and Merlin in The Lucky Prodigal. 

It would appear that the new playhouse was not too well 
patronized at the outset, and that salaries were not always 
paid with the regularity desirable. Spiller being at rehearsal 
on a Saturday morning, what time the ghost was usually 
expected to walk, asked a comrade-at-arms if Mr. Wood, 
the treasurer, had gone his rounds. " No, faith, Jemmy," 
replied the other, " I'm afraid there's no cole " (a cant word 
for money). " By God ! " said Spiller, " if there's no cole we 
must burn Wood." 

Taking a leaf out of Aaron Hill's book, one or two of 
Rich's resourceful hacks bethought them of writing parts to 
act as setting for the brilliant lustre of Spiller's talent. In 
Bullock's A Woman s Revenge ; or a Match in Newgate, first 
produced on 24 October, 17 15, the adaptive actor-author 
had fashioned two roles (Tom and Padwell) to be doubled by 
his genial fellow-comedian. Afterwards, when publishing his 
play, he dedicated it to the wit in the following droll style : 

To my merry friend and brother comedian, Mr. James Spiller. 

Dear Jemmy — My choice of you for a patron will acquit me of 
those detestable characters, which most of our modern authors are 
obnoxious to, from their fulsome dedication — I mean a mercenary 
and a flatterer. My prefixing your name to these sheets will clear 
me of the former, and there is no fear of incurring the scandal of 
the latter, since the greatest encomiums which my humble pen could 
draw out, come far short of your just praise. I could expatiate on 
your many excellent virtues, your chastity, your temperance, your 
generosity, your exemplary piety, and your judicious and fashionable 
management in your conjugal affairs; but since I am as well 

A Player-Friend of Hogarth 217 

acquainted with your aversion to reading I shall content myself 
with mentioning the many obligations I have to you, particularly 
for your good performance in this farce, especially in your last part ; 
I mean that of Padwell ; in which you was a shining ornament to 
the scene of Newgate ; and you must not think I flatter you, when 
I tell you, you have a natural impudence proper to the character and 
become your fetters as well as any that ever wore them. And I am 
sorry I could not, without giving offence to the critics, and deviating 
too far from the rules of comedy, bring you to Tyburn for the 
better diversion of the audience ; but I hope you are satisfied with 
my good wishes and will give me leave to subscribe myself 

Your Obliged, Humble Servant, 

Christopher Bullock. 

The sharpness of the rivalry between the two patent 
theatres has amusing illustration in a quaint anecdote told 
ofSpiller in connexion with this period. Nothing if not bibu- 
lous, Rich's easy-going henchman engaged in a drinking 
bout at the Gun Tavern, Billingsgate, with Pinkethman of 
Drury Lane, and, being endowed with more staying power, 
outlasted his old-time associate. No sooner had the potency 
of the liquor rendered poor Pinky " o'er all the ills of life 
victorious," than his adroit antagonist went through his 
pockets and took therefrom the part of the "Cooler of 
Preston," in a farce so called, which the abnormally obese 
Charles Johnson had written for Drury Lane. Jemmy 
carried the spoils of war to his friend Christopher Bullock, 
who set to work on a Friday to construct a rival piece on 
the expede Herculem principle : the fundamental idea in both 
being obviously that of Shakespeare's £C Sly, the Tinker." 1 
On Saturday night the farce was completed and put forth- 
with into rehearsal, with the result that its production took 
place on the following Tuesday, 24 January, 17 16, with 
Spiller as Toby Guzzle. This quite took the wind out of 
old Drury's sails, as the original " Cobler " failed to make its 
appearance for several days after, when the effect was that of 
a damp squib. A propos, Samuel Ireland, the Hogarthian 
commentator, in speaking ofSpiller, says : — 

1 Samuel Ireland, Graphic Illustrations ofHogarth,\. (1794)^.64. This book is not to be 
confused with John Ireland's Hogarth Illustrated, a work published about the same period. 

2 1 8 A Player-Friend of Hogarth 

I have seen a well-engraved ticket for his benefit, which had for 
its supporters, himself on one side, and his wife on the other, both 
in a state of intoxication. In this ticket the name of Spiller was spelt 
with an <z diphthong; a whimsical conceit which seems to have 
arisen from his name being sometimes spelt with an e and at others 
with an a. Thus, whatever was the orthography, it was sure to be 
in the right. 1 

Ireland errs very flagrantly in assuming that the features 
of this benefit ticket afford another illustration of Spiller's 
audacious habit of flaunting his vices before the public. So 
far from being depicted in their private capacities, the actor 
and actress were here represented in the parts played by 
them in The Cobler of Preston ! 

On 21 April, 171 6, we find Spiller, for Shaw's benefit, 
speaking an epilogue " after the approved manner of 
Pinkethman," seated on an ass. 2 A curious commentary, 
this, on the taste of the times ! Later on in the year we learn 
of him as Bottom in Leveridge's comic masque of Pyramus 
and Thisbe and as Aspin in Woman s a Riddle. A noteworthy 
production at Lincoln's Inn Fields was that of Taverner's 
comedy, The Artful Husband^ which first saw the light on 
1 2 February, 1 7 1 7, and was played fifteen times during the 
season. 3 In Stockwell, Spiller had a part of no very great 
importance, but the exquisite finish of his rendering gained 
him one of the finest compliments ever paid to an actor. 
Victor relates that on the first night the comedian's "Patron 
and Admirer, the late Duke of Argyle, went to see the 
comedy; but his attention was entirely engrossed by a new 
actor, as his Grace then thought him, and to so great a degree 
that the Duke recommended him that night behind the 
scenes to Mr. Rich as a young actor of merit, and one that 
deserved his Encouragement." 4 The matter-of-fact Genest 

1 op. cit. i. 71. 

2 The notorious ass-epilogue was first spoken by Dogget as Sancho Panza after 
D'Urfey's Comical History of Don Quixote, Pt i., at Dorset Gardens, in May, 1 694. Subse- 
quently it became the dubious heirloom of Jo. Haines, Pinkethman, and other low 
comedians. See The Eliz. Playhouse and other Studies (First Series), p. 169, illustration. 

3 It was revived in 1720, when Spiller spoke a new epilogue by Lewis Theobald 
dealing with the South Sea Bubble. For copy, see the fourth edition of the play 
(8vo, 1735). 

4 Victor's History of the Theatres of London and Dublin, ii. 69. 

A Player-Friend of Hogarth 219 

has thrown doubts on the credibility of this story, but Dr. 
Doran, by recalling an analogous experience of his own in 
connexion with Lafont, has shown that the incident is quite 
within the regions of possibility. l Happily, as we shall see 
anon, Victor's testimony concerning Spiller's unrivalled 
powers of personification is amply corroborated. 

Not quite so agreeable, by the way, was Jemmy's experi- 
ence with another Duke — his Grace of Wharton. Happen- 
ing to be present one night in a tavern when this dissolute 
nobleman compelled his companions, in a drunken freak, 
to take off a garment with the toasting of each health, he 
divested himself of peruke, waistcoat, and coat with great 
equanimity. Further than that he confessed his inability to 
go, having, as he rather shamefacedly acknowledged, quite 
forgotten to put on his shirt ! 2 

Among the attractions advertised for Mr. and Mrs. 
Spiller's benefit on 13 April, 17 17, was a "New Comi- 
Tragi-Mechanical Prologue in the gay style," written and 
to be spoken by the facetious Jemmy himself. At Pinketh- 
man and Pack's booth at Southwark Fair in the September 
following, we find him figuring as Trusty in a new Droll, 
entitled Twice Married and a Maid Still. At Lincoln's Inn 
Fields in December was produced Bullock's original farce. 
The Perjurer — a coarse satire on country justices for the 
penance undergone at their hands by luckless barn- 
stormers. Spiller played Spoilem, a stroller, and spoke a 
prologue containing the significant line : 

In these short scenes my character is shown. 

During 171 8-9 Jemmy created several important new 
characters, notably Periwinkle in A Bold Stroke for a Wife, 
Ranger in The Coquet, Jerry in The Younger Brother ', Prate in 
'Tis Well If It Takes, and Captain Hackit in Kensington 
Gardens. Rich's company was woefully inadequate for the 
general requirements, and very often the square peg found 
itself in the round hole. It was thus with poor Spiller on 7 
January, 1720, when only his strong powers of personifica- 

1 Doran's Their Majesties' Servants (edited by R. W. Lowe, 1888), i. 344. 

2 Ireland, op. cit. i. 70. 

220 A Player-Friend of Hogarth 

tion kept him from making ludicrous the gloomy role of 
Jachimo in a mysterious Shakespearean sophistication called 
Cymbeline^ or the Fatal Wager. Later in the month he was 
the original Philip in Whig and Tory. 

Possibly few comedians at any period ever took greater 
liberties with their public, or presumed more on their 
popularity, than the subject of this sketch. For his benefit on 
the ensuing 3 1 March Spiller issued the following topical 
advertisement : 

For the Entertainment of Robinson Crusoe. A collection of 
farces after the English manner, viz., Walking Statue, Hob or 
Country Wake, and Cobler of Preston. And whereas I, James 
Spiller, of Gloucestershire, having received an invitation from 
Hildebrand Bullock, of Liquor-pond Street, London, to exercise 
the usual weapons of the noble science of defence, will not fail to 
meet this bold invader, desiring a full stage, blunt weapons, and 
from him much favour. 

' In the thirteenth number of The Anti-Theatre ^ issued two 
days before the benefit, a letter is printed from Spiller to 
the editor — 

I have a great desire to engage you to be my friend, and recom- 
mend me to the town; and, therefore, I take the liberty to inform 
you that on next Thursday will be acted, for the benefit of myself and 
creditors^ a collection of Farces, after the English manner ; and as 
I am a curious observer of nature, and can see as much with one 
eye as others do with both, I think I have found out what will 
please the multitude. ... I have tolerable good luck, and tickets 
rise apace, which makes mankind very civil to me; for I get up every 
morning to a levee of at least a dozen people, who pay their compli- 
ments, and ask the same question: " When they shall be paid?" 
All that I can say is thatwicked good company have brought me into 
this imitation of grandeur. I loved my friend and my jest too well 
to grow rich ; in short, wit is my blind side ; and so I remain, Sec. 

It is not known under what circumstances Spiller was 
deprived of an eye — a loss to which he here makes sportive 
allusion. Happily, owing to the dim stage lighting of the 
period, the blemish did not affect his capacity for Protean 
disguise. By his benefit he realized some ^107, but instead 
of paying his creditors, he made offto Dublin, where, mixing 

A Mayer-Friend of Hogarth 221 

himself up in dubious company, he was robbed of almost 
every farthing he possessed. Scrambling back to London, 
he was received with open arms by Rich, and was at once 
re-engaged at a salary of £4 per week. He returned just in 
time to take part in the memorable revival of The Merry 
Wives of Windsor (22 October, 1720), in which Quin 
achieved sudden distinction by his unexpected exhibition, 
as Falstaff, of rare comedy powers. In discussing this revival, 
Davies gives an incorrect cast — a blunder which has been 
rectified by the laborious Genest. To Spiller the former 
assigns Dr. Caius, the latter Pistol. 

On 19 January, 1721, Jemmy created the part of Snap, 
a stock-jobber, in a skit on commercial gambling, entitled 
The Chimera. On 24 April following we find him playing 
Crispin the Sham Doctor in the farce of The Anatomist — a 
condensed and considerably altered version of Ravenscroft's 
old comedy so called. It is to this personation that the cele- 
brated Italian actor-author, Luigi Riccoboni, refers in the 
following citation from his "Historical and Critical Account 
of the Theatres in Europe" 1 : — 

At the Theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields I happened to be at the 
actingofa comedy the principal plot of which I was a stranger to, but 
with ease could understand an episode which the author without 
doubt had placed in the intrigue ; it is that scene which we have so 
often seen in the Crispin Median. 2 The sole alteration that is made 
therein is the introducing an old man in the Place of a Footman, 
who by his bustle excites the laughter of the audience, while he 
places himself in the room of a dead body which the physician is to 
dissect. The scene was thus disposed ; the amorous old gentleman 
entertains himself with a footman belonging to his mistress's house ; 
the footman either hears, or pretends to hear a noise, and desires the 
old fellow to hide himself; all the doors being locked, he advises him 
to place himself on the board on which the body is laid. After some 
difficulties made, the old man consents to it and does precisely what 
Crispin does in the French comedy ; but to give it the greater air of 
truth the footman makes the old man strip to his shirt ; the operator 

1 London, 1741, a translation from his Reflexions bistoriques et critiques sur les 
different the&tres de V Europe (Paris, 1738). 

2 A prose comedy in three acts, produced in Paris in 1674 and printed in 1680. 
Noel le Breton, Sieur de Hauteroche, its author, was a comedian of the Troupe Royal. 

222 A Player-Friend of Hoga rth 

comes; chirurgical instruments are brought; he puts himself in 
order to begin the Dissection ; the old man cries out and the trick 
is discovered. 

He who acted the old man executed it to the nicest perfection, 
which one could expect in no player who had not forty years' exer- 
cise and experience. I was not at all astonished in one respect, but 
I was charmed now to find another M. Guerin, 1 that excellent 
comedian, Master of the Company at Paris which had the misfor- 
tune to lose him in our time. I was mistaken in my opinion that a 
whole age could not produce such another, when, in our own time, 
I found his match in England, with the same art and with talent as 
singular. As he played the part of an old man, I made no manner 
of doubt of his being an old comedian, who, instructed by long 
experience, and at the same time assisted by the weight of his years, 
had performed it so naturally. But how great was my surprise when 
I learn'd that he was a young man of about twenty-six ! I could not 
believe it, but I own'd that it might be possible ; had he only used a 
trembling and broken voice and had only an extreme weakness 
possessed his body, because I conceived it possible for a young actor 
by the help of art to imitate that debility of nature to such a pitch of 
exactness ; but the wrinkles of his face, his sunk eyes, and his loose 
and yellow cheeks, the most certain marks of a great old age, were 
incontestable proofs against what they said to me. Notwithstanding 
all this I was forced to submit to truth, because I knew for certain 
that the actor, to fit himself for the part of the old man, spent an hour 
in dressing himself, and that with the assistance of several pencils he 
disguised his face so nicely, and painted so artificially a part of his 
eyebrows and eyelids that at the distance of six paces it was impos- 
sible not to be deceived. I was desirous to be a witness of this myself, 
but pride hindered me ; so knowing that I must be ashamed, I was 
satisfied with a confirmation of it from the other actors. Mademoiselle 
Salle, among others who then shone upon that stage, confessed to me, 
that the first time she saw him perform she durst not go into a passage 
where he was, fearing lest she should throw him down should she 
happen to touch him in passing by. 

Both Victor and Ireland, in referring to this remarkable 
tribute, fix the date of Riccoboni's visit at 17 15, misled 
probably to some extent by the Italian actor's statement 
regarding Spiller's age, which is absurdly wide of the mark. 

1 Guerin d' Estriche (1636-1728), who made his debut in 1672, married Moliere's 
widow five years later, and retired in 1717. 

A Player-Friend of Hoga rth 223 

Jemmy must have been close on thirty-five when his artistry 
aroused the admiration of the famous Lelio. The latter first 
came to Paris from Parma in May, 1716, when the Italian 
comedy was re-established there by the Due D'Orleans as 
Regent. ! Apparently his first visit to London was paid in 
1727, at a period when Mile. Salle was at the fag-end of her 
long engagement at Lincoln's Inn Fields. 2 

Exasperated by his infidelities, Mrs. Spiller in 1722 left 
her husband for good. His subsequent career was one of 
riot and disorder. For a period of two years theatrical annals 
have no record of his name. Improvidence soon compelled 
him to take refuge in the Mint, where, adapting himself to 
his surroundings, he contrived to get up a performance of 
The Drummer, realizing some twenty pounds from auditors 
as needy as himself. Rising to the occasion, he wrote and 
delivered a merry epilogue brimming over with quaint 
conceits and topical allusions : — 

Odd may it seem, indeed a very joke, 

That player should complain of being broke ; 

But so it is, I own it void of shame 

Since all this worthy circle are the same. 

But pardon — I perhaps mistake the matter, 

You mayn't have all occasion for Mint water; 

Were 't so our fate we need not much deplore, 

For men of note have made this tour before. 

Since South sea schemes have set the world a-madding 

Some topping dons have hither come a-gadding ; 

Pall Mall no longer can some sparks delight, 

And Covent Garden grows too impolite. 3 

After matriculating at the Mint, Spiller took further 
degrees in degradation at the Marshalsea, where his wit so 
charmed the turnkey that the worthy fellow threw up his 
gruesome post and became mine host of " The Bull and 
Butcher," in Clare Market, then a region of fashionable riot, 
the better to enjoy the droll's society. The butchers of the 

1 Le Nouveau Theatre Italien (Paris, 1753), i, avertissement, p. viii. 

2 Cf. Emile Dacier, Mademoiselle Salle (Second Edition, 1909), pp. 28-9. As the 
fact has escaped M. Dacier, it may be noted here that Mile. Salle and her brother made 
their English debuts, when children, at the Italian Opera House in the Haymarket on 
8 December, 17 16. See Michael Kelly's Reminiscences (1826), ii, Appendix, p. 347. 

3 For a complete copy of the epilogue, see Ireland, op. cit. i. 65. 

224 ^ Flayer-Friend of Hoga rth 

district were hail-fellow-well-met with the players, and sided 
with them in all their frolics. There were high jinks, more- 
over, at the weekly club held at " The Bull and Butcher," one 
of the members being no less a personage than Hogarth, 
who was responsible for the engraving on the silver tankard 
handed round at these merry meetings. 1 

Early in 1725 Spiller's name crops up again at Lincoln's 
Inn Fields. On 1 1 January he appeared as Brainworm in 
a revival of Every Man in His Humour. Towards the close 
of the year we find him creating Trusty in The Capricious 
Lovers. After that he dives once more below the surface, 
not to emerge until 29 January, 1728, when he bears his 
honours proudly as the original Mat o' the Mint in The 
Beggar s Opera. In this characterization, according to Akerby 
his panegyrist, " he outdid his usual outdoings to such a 
degree that whenever he sang he executed his part with so 
truly sweet and harmonious a tone and in so judicious and 
ravishing a manner that the audience could not avoid 
putting his modesty to the blush by repeated clamours of 
encore." From all accounts, it would appear that Spiller 
contributed very materially to the success of Gay's famous 
opera. Macklin, who was present at the first performance, 
has put it on record that the fate of the piece hung in the 
balance until the song and chorus, " Let us Take to the 
Road," came to be rendered. 

For Jemmy's benefit this season Hogarth engraved a 
carefully executed ticket, in which the droll is depicted in 
the act of selling vouchers of admission for the night, while 
angry creditors growl in his ears and hungry-eyed bailiffs 
make ominous approach. 2 How sternly realistic all this was 
is shown by the fact that in his closing days Spiller seldom 
dared venture outside the theatre, where he shared an apart- 
ment with the equally thriftless Walker, the original Captain 
Macheath. While playing clown in Lewis Theobald's panto- 
mime of The Rape of Proserpine, on 3 1 January, 1729, before 
the Prince of Wales and other notabilities, Jemmy was seized 

1 For a reproduction of the design, see Ireland, i. p. 77. 

2 Reproduced in Doran (op. cit., edit Lowe), i. 336. Cf. Ireland, i. 62. 

A Player-Friend of Hogarth 22c 

with apoplexy, and died in the theatre a week later at the 
early age of 37. To the last his bright mother-wit never 
forsook him. On being carried up to his room he rallied 
somewhat, and recognizing the invalided Walker, with 
whom he had had some recent dispute, said to him, "You see, 
Tom, I told you I would be even with you before long, and 
now I've kept my word. " Manager Rich buried poor Motley 
at his own expense, and followed him to his last resting- 
place in the churchyard of the parish of St. Clement Danes. 
cc By the concurrent desire of an elegant company," who, 
according to Akerby, were assembled at the " Bull and 
Butcher" over a bowl of arrack punch a few weeks before 
Jemmy's death, "and by the generous offer of Mr. Laguerre, 1 
who was one of the company, and as excellent a master in 
the science of painting as music, the sign was changed from 
the 'Bull and Butcher' to the 'Spiller's Head,' and painted 
by the said Mr. Laguerre gratis, in a manner and with a 
pencil that equals the proudest performance of those who 
have acquired the greatest wealth and reputation in the 
art of painting." Thus it happened that, like Tarleton of 
old, and Joey Grimaldi of later memory, Rich's clown was 
paid the honours of public-house apotheosis. It is note- 
worthy, however, that the new sign was not put in place until 
after Spiller's death, when it bore the following inscription : 

View here the wag who did his mirth impart, 
With pleasing humour and diverting art ; 
A cheerful bowl in which he took delight, 
To raise his mirth and pass a winter's night. 
Jovial and merry did he end his days 
In comic scenes and entertaining plays. 

At once a movement was set on foot to have the come- 
dian's life written, and a Clare Market butcher made the 
following appeal to his fellows : 

Down with your marrow-bones and cleavers all, 
And on your marrow-bones ye butchers fall ! 
For prayers from you, who never pray'd before, 
Perhaps poor Jemmy may to life restore. 

1 Jack. Laguerre, for whom see D. N. B. under "Louis Laguerre", his father. 

226 A Player-Friend of Hoga rth 

" What have we done ? " the wretched bailiffs cry, 
"That th' only man by whom we liv'd should die." 
Enrag'd, they gnaw their wax and tear their writs, 
While butchers' wives fall in hysteric fits ; 
For, sure as they 're alive, poor Spiller 's dead ; 
But thanks to Jack Legar we've got his head. 
Down with your ready cole, ye jovial tribe, 
And for a mezzotinto cut subscribe ; 
The markets traverse, and surround the Mint ; 
It shall go hard but he shall be in print. 

He was an inoffensive merry fellow, 
When sober hipp'd, blithe as a bird when mellow. 

Two modest shilling pamphlets were issued, the one 
containing sundry details of Spiller's life, by Akerby, the 
painter, and a portrait after Laguerre; the other his "merry 
jests, diverting songs and entertaining tales." Spiller's wit 
made up in copiousness what it lacked in quality. Of his 
alertness, whether drunk or sober, there can be no question. 
Even pain did not affect the jocose spirit of the man. Seeing 
him worried one day at rehearsal by an exasperating attack 
of the toothache, the barber of the theatre offered to remove 
the offending molar. "I cannot spare a single tooth now, 
friend," replied the sufferer, "but after the ioth of June 
[when the season ended] you may have the lot and wel- 
come." Although enjoying a salary much above the average, 
Jemmy was ever in debt, and was once upbraided for his 
improvidence by an Italian prima donna who lived in high 
state on an indifferent professional income. " Madame," 
he replied, with a leer and a bow, " unhappily, what renders 
you rich keeps me perpetually in want ! " 

Poor Jemmy ! What Victor has written might very well 
stand for his epitaph. " Spiller shared the general fate, for 
years together, of performing all his parts excellently well 
in an unfashionable theatre and to thin audiences ; a fate, 
I fear, in some respects, he too much merited. He was a 
man of an irregular life, and therefore lived neglected ; and 
after death was soon forgot." 

Garrick's First Appearance as Hamlet 

Garrick's First Appearance as Hamlet 

To be twenty-five and already a great actor, to have the 
world at one's feet, to love and be beloved by a vivacious 
and beautiful woman one's associate in art — that, if any- 
thing, should surely spell happiness. Such, at any rate, was 
the enviable state in which David Garrick found himself at 
the period of his first visit to Dublin in June, 1742. To 
his travelling companion and lady-love, charming Peggy 
Wofrlngton, it was an agreeable home-coming after her 
triumphs at Covent Garden ; and even little Davy can hardly 
have deemed himself wholly a stranger in a strange land, 
seeing that he was Irish on the mother's side. Only a month or 
two before Garrick's arrival Handel had given to the world 
in Fishamble Street his immortal "Messiah". Never had 
Fortune so magnificently preluded a great actor, never was a 
public put in so receptive a mood for inspired acting. Dublin 
rose nobly to the occasion, and night after night packed the 
little theatre in Smock Alley throughout that sultry summer. 
It mattered not that fever came — "the Garrick fever", as it 
was called by association — and decimated the ranks of play- 
lovers. And to think that the chameleon-like genius who 
created all this sensation had been scarcely a year upon the 
stage ! As in a magic glass he was seen conj uring up in quick 
succession the ruthless egoism of Gloster, the racking senile 
madness of KingLear, the Scapin-like knaveries of Sharp, the 
well-graced affectations of Lord Foppington, the monkey- 
tricks of Master Johnny, the humours of Bayes and the 
sorrows of Pierre. But the crowning effort was yet to come, 
that achievement by which Garrick was to place the keystone 
to the arch of his triumphs. During his novitiate (if he can 
be truly said to have had any) at Goodman's Fields in 
London, he had played the Ghost to Giffard's Hamlet, but 
his initial embodiment of the morbidly introspective young 
Prince was a treat reserved for playgoers by the Liffey. 

230 Garrick! s First Appearance as Hamlet 

According to the terms of his agreement with the Smock 
Alley managers, Garrick was entitled during his visit to two 
benefits. The first had been duly taken on 24 June as King 
Lear, and the second was announced for 1 9 July in The Fair 
Penitent. But for reasons that will now be made clear the 
latter was postponed to 12 August and the bill changed. 
Five days before his first appearance in the great testing 
character of Hamlet, Faulkner s Dublin Journal published a 
paragraph setting forth that 

Mr. Garrick thinks it proper to acquaint the town that he did 
not take The Fair Penitent (as was given out) for his Benefit ; that 
play being disapproved of by several Gentlemen and Ladies, but by 
Particular Desire, deferred it till Hamlet could be got ready, which 
will be played on Thursday next, the part of Hamlet by Mr. Garrick, 
Ophelia by Mrs. Woffington. With Dancing by Signiora Barberina 
and Mr. Henry Delamain. 

The celebrated danseuse, Barbara Campanini, 1 better 
known under her stage name of La Barbarina, had come 
over from London (where she had been drawing rank and 
fashion to Drury Lane) at the same time as Garrick and 
Peg Woffington. A magnificent full-length portrait of her, 
by Antoine Pesne, is preserved in the Imperial Palace at 
Berlin. 2 Curiously enough, she was not fated to dance at 
Smock Alley on the night of Garrick's debut as Hamlet. 
The band happened to be labouring under some grievance at 
the time, and struck peremptorily at the last moment. Their 
absence was not nearly so serious a matter as the sudden 
defection of the orchestra would have been on the occasion 
of Mr. Martin Harvey's first appearance as Hamlet, 3 when, 
as will be readily recalled by Dublin playgoers, an elaborate 
symbolic overture and much original incidental music were 
provided. A century and a half ago audiences could enjoy 
Shakespeare without any such adventitious aids. But the 
public in those days were rigorous in demanding that the 
full promise of the playbill should be put into execution, 

1 For whom, see Emile Dacier, Mademoiselle Salle, pp. 208 seqq. She came to 
Paris from Italy in July, 1739. 

2 Reproduced by Gaston Vuillier, A History of Dancing (1898), p. 152. 

3 An event which took place at the Theatre Royal, Dublin, on 21 Nov., 1904. 

Garrick' s First Appearance as Hamlet 231 

and thought nothing of tearing up the benches when faith 
was not kept. Hence the position was not without its grave 
contingencies. On the great Hamlet night, certain dances 
had been advertised to be given between the acts as a supple- 
mentary attraction, but La Barbarina and her companion 
could not be expected to dance without musical accompani- 
ment. The occasion was to be one of pomp and grandeur, as 
the Lords Justices had signified their intention to be present. 
A disturbance on a State night would have been gravely 
injurious to the future interests of the theatre. So Garrick 
took advantage of his abounding popularity to throw oil 
upon the waters before the surface became ruffled. In other 
words, he came before the curtain between the acts and 
begged the indulgence of the house with regard to the un- 
avoidable omission of the dances under the embarrassing 
circumstances. The audience was at once propitiated. But 
one takes leave to think that the measure of anxiety and 
uncertainty which obsessed Garrick at the moment must 
have militated against the exercise of his full powers on the 
critical occasion. A first night Hamlet under such condi- 
tions could not well be without its blemishes. Nevertheless, 
as we shall see, Garrick triumphed over all his difficulties. 

The extraordinary action of the Smock Alley fiddlers 
afforded gossip for the quidnuncs, and remained a nine 
days' wonder. In Faulkner s Dublin Journal for 1 6 August, 
1742, occurs a curious counter-advertisement throwing 
some meagre light on the odd dispute : 

Whereas an advertisement was Yesterday published and handed 
about the Coffee Houses containing a sort of an Excuse for the 
Musick, for their non-attendance at the Playhouse in Smock Alley 
on Thursday the 12th of this instant, August, at the play of Hamlet 
for Mr. Garrick's benefit. Now being apprehensive that the said 
advertisement is calculated to injure the Company of said Theatre in 
the opinion of the Town, they therefore think themselves obliged to 
inform the Publick that upon Examination of the Playhouse Accompt 
books, they find that since the management of the Company has been 
committed to the care of the persons now concerned, there is not 
one Night's sallery due to the Musick, altho' they insist in their 
advertisement that there were four nights ; and they further beg leave 

232 Garrick's First Appearance as Hamlet 

to say, that being disappointed of Musick on the above night, they 
sent to the Band, desiring them to attend as usual, and that whatever 
appeared to be justly due to them should the following day be paid; 
and tho' two acts of the play were then over, the Person who applied 
to them on the company's behalf, offered to pay them down the 
money for that night's performance, that the Lords Justices (who 
were then in the house) might not be disappointed of the dances 
mentioned in the bills. And tho' several of the said band actually 
belonged to the Castle and State Musick, yet they peremptorily 
refused to come, as did also Mr. John Blackwood, who is an annual 
servant to the company, and had in his custody the copies of the 
dances etc. And they further take leave to observe that the said 
Band carried their ill behaviour so far as to enter into a combination 
to intimidate several other Performers from supplying their places, 
by threatning that whoever should play in the Musick Room of 
said Theatre should never be engag'd or concern'd in any Band or 
Concert of Musick with them. 

It is noteworthy that "the musick room " was the old term 
for the place now known as the orchestra. 

Intelligent as was the interest in the drama at this period, 
such a feature of the Irish Press as theatrical criticism was 
then utterly unknown. The occasion, however, brought 
forth the man. Two days after Garrick's first performance 
of Hamlet, some scholarly devotee of the drama sent him 
an anonymous communication, in which strictures upon 
his acting and upon his pronunciation of various words 
were mingled with high encouragement and strophes of 
enthusiasm. Garrick was sensible enough to profit by the 
criticism of his masked admirer, and carefully preserved 
the epistle. Ireland's first dramatic critic had posthumous 
honours thrust upon him, for his long pronouncement 
on "Hamlet" was given to the world some eighty years 
later, when Boaden published an ill-arranged selection from 
Garrick's correspondence. 1 

Dating from Dublin, Saturday, 14 August, 1742, the 
critic says : 

Sir, — As I am entirely unknown to you, I take the liberty to give 
you my opinion upon some few things that I have taken notice of 

1 Private Correspondence of David Garrick (1831), i. pp. 12-14. 

Garrick's First Appearance as Hamlet 233 

in your public performances, most of which I have attended, and do 
really think that you will in time, and with a little more experience, 
be the best and most extraordinary player that ever these kingdoms 
saw. I cannot, therefore, but with regret observe some things that 
not only displease me, but I am pretty sure, offend the most judicious 
and discerning part of your audience. 

He goes on to find fault with Garrick's pronunciation of 
certain words, such as "matron," "Israel," "appal" and 
"Horatio," and then proceeds : 

I went the other night to see you perform the part of Hamlet, 
and do indeed think that you got a great deal of deserved applause. 
I doubt whether the famous Betterton did the part half so well the 
first time he attempted it. The character of Hamlet is no small 
test of a man's genius, where the action is inconsiderable, and the 
sentiment so prevailing and remarkable through the whole. I own 
that upon your first encounter with the ghost, I observed with some 
astonishment, that it was a considerable time before you spoke. 1 
I beg of you, Sir, to consider that these words — 

"Angels and Ministers of grace defend us !" 
follow upon the first surprise, and are the immediate effects of it. 
I grant you that a little pause after that is highly proper; but to 
repeat them at the same time, and in the same tone of voice with 
the speech, 

" Be thou a spirit of health ", etc., 
is very improper, because they are by no means a part of that speech. 
You certainly kept the audience in a strange suspense, many of 
whom, I suppose, were afraid, as well as I, that you wanted the 
assistance of the prompter. There is one thing that I must mention, 
which I think has but a very ridiculous appearance, although it has 
been practised by every one that I have seen in that character; and it 
is this: — when the Ghost beckons Hamlet to follow him, he, enraged 
at Horatio for detaining him, draws his sword, and in that manner 
follows the Ghost; presently he returns, Hamlet still following him 
sword in hand, till the Ghost says 

"I am thy Father's spirit ! " 

at which words Hamlet with a very respectful bow, sheaths his 
sword ; which is as much as to say, that if he had not been a Ghost 
upon whom he could depend, he dared not have ventured to put up 

1 This remained a characteristic of Garrick's acting at this juncture (see his Life 
by Arthur Murphy, Chap, v 5 also Austin Brereton, Some Famous Hamlets, p. 14). 

234 Garrick's First Appearance as Hamlet 

his sword. The absurdity of this custom is plain from the nature of 
spirits, and from what Marcellus a little before says, that "it is as 
the air invulnerable." I think it would be much better if Hamlet 
should at these words — 

"By Heaven ! I'll make a ghost of him that lets me !" 
only put his hand to his sword, and make an attempt to draw it. 

The scene between Hamlet and Ophelia, and likewise that with 
the Queen, you played so inimitably well, and with such strict 
justice, that I never saw anything equal to it in my life ; and indeed 
I can almost say the same of the whole character. I do not under- 
stand your leaving aside that beautiful part, his directions to the 
Players ; and unless it was an unskilful person that was conscious 
to himself that he could not keep up to the nicety of his own rules, 
I know no reason for it ; but that, I am sure, you need not fear. 1 
I wish that, instead of it, you would omit that abominable soliloquy, 
that is such a terrible blot and stain to a character, that, were it not 
for that, would be complete; I mean that part where Hamlet comes 
in with a resolution to kill his Uncle, but finding him at his prayers, 
he says he will not do it, lest he should do him a piece of service 
and send him to Heaven. 

We pause here to say that not a few latter-day impersona- 
tors of Hamlet have taken this view and omitted the 
soliloquy. In his closing, encomiastic sentences the critic 
contrives to make neat allusion to the defection of the band: 

Till you came upon the stage to let us know that the music 
would not attend you, I never thought of it; as it was formerly said 
of Milton's poetry, that it was so sublime and grand in itself, that it 
needed not the embellishment of rhyme, so can I say of you in the 
part of Hamlet, that the satisfaction I received from thence was so 
!2;reat, that music could not have added anything to make it more 
complete than it was. With this I conclude, that if you find any- 
thing here that you think worthy of your observation and practice, 
the end I proposed will be fully answered ; if not, yet I shall still 
remain your constant well-wisher and admirer. 

With these and many similar oral compliments lingering in 
his mind, Garrick had no reason to regret his first visit to 
Dublin. Small wonder that he returned for a whole season 
to the fascinating city by the Liffey only three years later. 

1 Restored when he first played Hamlet in London (see Murphy's Life, Chap. v). 


Appendix I 

Amended Chronological List of Elizabethan, and 
quasi-Elizabethan, Playhouses (1576 — 1663). 

The Theater. 
Unroofed theatre ; situated in Moore-fields, Shoreditch ; built by- 
James Burbage, 1576; pulled down, 1598; authentic views, none. 

The Curtain. 
Unroofed theatre ; situated in Moore-fields, Shoreditch, on 
ground called the Curtain, near Holywell Lane; built in 1576; 
pulled down c. 1630; last referred to in 1627; s ^ te afterwards 
known successively as Curtain Court, Gloucester Row, and 
Gloucester Street ; authentic views, none. 

The First Blackfriars. 
First roofed (or private) theatre; constructed by Richard Farrant 
early in 1577 on a section of the second floor of the old Blackfriars 
monastery; abandoned c. May, 1584; authentic views, none. (For 
details, see C. W. Wallace, The Evolution of the English Drama up to 
Shakespeare, Chapters xv-xxi.) 

Roofed theatre; situated in the Choir Singing School, near the 
Convocation House (St. Paul's); built c. 1 58 1 ; suppressed, 1590-6; 
last trace of, 1608; burnt down in Great Fire, 1666; authentic 
views, none. 

Newington Butts. 
Unroofed theatre ; situated in Lambeth; built c. 1586; pulled 
down c. 1603; authentic views, none. 

The Rose. 
Small, unroofed theatre; situated on the Bankside in Southwark; 
built between 1587 and 1592; first referred to in 1592, last in 
1622; authentic views: (Exterior) Norden's Map, 1593. 

The Swan. 
Unroofed theatre; situated in Paris Garden, Southwark; built 
1 595 by Francis Langley; pulled down c. 1635; authentic views: 
(Interior) Van Buchell's sketch, after de Witt, 1596 ; (Exterior) 
Visscher's Map, 16 16 ; Manor Map, 1627. 

238 Appendix I 

The Second Blackfriars. 
Small roofed theatre, built in 1 596 by Burbage on the first floor of 
the South section of Blackfriars Monastery; pulled down 6 August, 
1 65 5 ; authentic views, none. 

The First Globe. 
Unroofed theatre; situated on the Bankside; built 1598, burnt 
down 29 June, 1613 ; authentic views, none. 

The First Fortune. 
Unroofed square theatre ; situated in Golden Lane (afterwards 
Red Cross Street), Cripplegate; built 1600; burnt down, 9 Decem- 
ber, 1 62 1; authentic views, none. 

Red Bull. 
Unroofed theatre; situated in St. John Street, Clerkenwell; built 
c. 160O; enlarged in 1632; last used as playhouse 1663 (see Pepys' 
Diary, 25 April, 1664) ; authentic views, none. 


Small roofed theatre ; erected in the Hall of Whitefriars Monas- 
tery, adjoining Dorset Gardens, Fleet Street; opened c. 1608 1 ; 
abandoned before 1616, when surveyed as in bad repair, but re- 
opened subsequently and finally closed in 1621 ; authentic views, 

The Hope. 

Unroofed theatre and Bear-baiting arena ; situated on the Bank- 
side ; built 1614 ; dismantled in 1656, but re-opened after the 
Restoration simply as a Bear-garden ; last trace of, 1682 (see 
T. F. Ordish's Early London Theatres, p. 242) ; authentic views: 
(Exterior) Visscher's Map, 1616 ; Merian's Map, 1 638 ; " Cittie 
of London " Map, 1646. 

The Second Globe. 

Unroofed theatre (on site of, but much superior to, the first 
house); built 1614; pulled down 1644; exterior view of, Visscher, 

The Cockpit, or Phcenix. 

Small roofed theatre ; constructed in the Cockpit in Drury Lane 
c. 161 7; dismantled 1649; last used 1664; site afterwards known 
as Pit Court ; authentic views, none. 

1 Some slender traces exist of an earlier Whitefriars playhouse c. 1580, but the 
evidence is too inconclusive to base upon. Cf. Collier's Hist. Eng. Dram. Poetry, iii. 290; 
and Cunningham's article on the Fleet Street Theatres in Shakespeare Society Papers, 
v. p. 89. 

Appendix I 239 

The Second Fortune. 

Unroofed, brick theatre; erected on site of older house c. 1623; 
dismantled in 1649, anc ^ ne ver afterwards used as a playhouse; 
serving as a secret conventicle in November, 1682 ; later used as 
a brewery. For exterior view in final stage, see Wilkinson's 
Londina Illustrata. 

Salisbury Court. 

Roofed theatre of 140 ft. by 42 ft. ; erected in 1629 Dv Richard 
Gunnell and Wm. Blagrave on the site of the old granary of Dorset 
House, near Fleet Street; dismantled 24 March, 1648-9; purchased 
in 1652 by William Beeston,the player, and rebuilt by him in April, 
1660, at a cost of ^329 odd ; last used 1663 ; destroyed by Great 
Fire, 1666 ; authentic views, none. (For details, see Shakespeare 
Society Papers, iv. pp. 98 ff.) 

The First Dublin Theatre. 
Small roofed theatre ; built in Werburgh Street in 1634 by John 
Ogilby ; notable as the only Pre-Restoration playhouse outside 
London ; closed in October, 1 641, by order of the Lords Justices, 
and afterwards converted into a cowhouse. For this theatre Shirley 
wrote The Royal Mastery St. Patrick for Ireland and other plays. 

Vere Street. 
Oblong roofed theatre; situated in Bear Yard, Vere Street, Clare 
Market ; built in a tennis-court ; last constructed house of the 
Elizabethan order ; opened by Killigrew and the King's players, 
November, 1660 ; abandoned April, 1663 ; used as a Nursery for 
actors in 1669 (see Pepys' Diary, 23 April, 1669); served as a Meet- 
ing House from 1675 to 1682 ; subsequently used as a carpenter's 
shop and a slaughter house; destroyed by fire 17 September, 1809; 
for view of ruins, see C. W. Heckethorn's Lincoln s Inn Fields and 
the Localities Adjacent, p. 138. 

Appendix II 
The Oldest Known English Playbills 

(Vide ante pp. 80-81). 

Further search having been made at my instance in the Verney 
archives, I am pleased to say that in the nick of time the old bills 
have been discovered, and that Sir Harry Verney, with rare courtesy, 
has permitted me to make photographs of them for reproduction. 
Owing to the fact that the bills are inaccurately described in Mr. 
Alfred J. Horwood's calendaring of the Verney Papers in the 
Historical Manuscripts Commission Report of 1879, it came as an 
agreeable surprise to find that they are four in number, not three. 
This mistake arose through assigning All For Love and Theodosius 
to the one bill. I had myself originally suspected some such con- 
fusion in connexion with the two plays, but later on my suspicions 
were allayed by Malone's statement as cited on page 81, note I. 

Another fact unrevealed by the Report is that the bills deal with 
two theatres, Drury Lane and the Queen's in Dorset Gardens. 
But since they all run in the one mould and belong to the period 
of 1692-4, it is requisite to bear in mind that they were issued 
by the one theatrical organization. After the union of the two 
companies in November, 1682, London, while continuing to 
possess two theatres, only boasted a single troupe of players until 
April, 1695. Acting, for the most part, took place at Drury Lane, 
but occasional performances had to be given at Dorset Gardens to 
propitiate the adventurers. The following is a summary of the 
details presented by the various bills. 

(1) Henry the Second King of England, at Drury Lane on 
Wednesday, 9 November (1692). " Never acted but once." Size 
of bill 6J inches by 3J; size of printed surface 3§ inches by i£. 

(2) The Indian Emperour ; or the Conquest of Mexico by the 
Spaniards. Drury Lane, 30 November (1692). Size of bill 7 J 
inches by 3J; of printed surface 3f inches by if. 

(3) All for Love, or The World Well Lost. Queen's Theatre, 
Dorset Gardens, Wednesday, 9 May (1694). Size of bill 6 inches 
by l\\ of printed surface 3 -J inches by \\. 






re £ 



2? 2= >w* ft ^?»v 




■ - 



;* «£* Za*e t this prefcm WtzfcUy beiog *B3 &£&<&$ 

•'--■'' A- Play called, 

H- Sh *^ Indiaa Bmperour, <5r» 

jTv*F>&, Tfee€oqqadlofM«ikobyrfie8^«ii. 

■ •* ' 1 -\ '■$; '»• " j^Jo money tc$e retttra'd after the cumin isd&vtt, 

'O^'/i*'" By their Sfojefltes Servants. FrvmMes^&rimk 

Z*r\ >; , - ■ 



V r . 

Lj * 4 ->*9fcg3 


##############€*# i i»^## lis 

■^Tthc Q.OEEN 
kW«» this prel 
©f 4$s/>will be prefenti 
All for Love, Oft 
#c money to be return* 
By their MajeftiesServai 

THE AT RE,in fcft* ^ 

i Wettfdap being the NiiwtfidY g 

the World well-loft-/- & xl 
I after the Curtain is drawny. >4 \ 
its. P7tywtRtx& Bagimin , t^ 
fe>- "ft ' 




- -t :j 

AT the (QUEENS THEATRE, in Dor/et- 
Garden, this prefent 7tf<r/&7 being the iath* 
of June, will be patented, 

A Play called, 
Theodofius, Or, The Force of love. 
. • No money to be re tnr n'd after the Curtain is drawsu 
By their Majefties Servaojts. Prum Rex& Rtgirtt. 

(Reduced facsimiles). 

[ To face p. 241. 

Appendix II 241 

(4) Theodosius, or the Force of Love. Queen's Theatre, Dorset 
Gardens, Tuesday, 12 June (1694). Size of bill 6 inches by 2^-; 
of printed surface 3 J inches by 1 \. 

(1) This is now the oldest extant English playbill and the third 
oldest known bill in Europe. 1 Since it indicates the second perform- 
ance of Bancroft and Mountford's tragedy, my date (ante p. 81) for 
the production of the play — derived from a contemporary news- 
letter transcribed in one of the Historical Manuscripts Comm. Reports 
— is slightly astray. Everything now points to the fact that Henry II 
King of England v/2& first produced on 8 November, 1692. 2 

(2) With the exception that the original has the mis-spellings 
" Wensday" and "Emperour", this bill has been correctly given 
by me (from the Historical Manuscripts Comm. Report) at p. 81. 
Allowing for necessary changes of theatre, dating and play-title, the 
formula is the same in all. One notes that the hour of performance 
is not specified. 

(3) Dryden's tragedy, All for Love, dates from December, 
1677, when it was produced at Drury Lane. Dorset Garden 
Theatre ceased to be called the Duke's, and became the Queen's, 
on the accession of James II in 1685. This bill bears on the back 
and front some writing believed to be in the hand of Sir Ralph 
Verney, together with the date " May, 1694." This affords a clue 
to the date of the bill, for 9 May, 1694, fell on a Wednesday. 

(4) Lee's tragedy of Theodosius was first produced in 1680, and 
was so frequently revived that some caution is necessary in dating 
this bill. However, the "Vivant Rex et Regina" at the end 
apparently limits it to the reign of William and Mary, and 1694 
is fairly conclusive seeing that 1 2 June in that year fell on a Tuesday. 

To eyes habituated to the amplitude of the latter-day day-bill 
what will appear remarkable about these bills is the meagreness of 
their information and the tininess of their size. The music-lover 
was left to discover how best he could that three out of the four plays 
announced had the extra attraction of fine vocal and instrumental 
music by Purcell. If the bills were used indifferently as poster 
and as handbill one cannot well see why they should have been so 
limited in size. That they were delivered at the houses of aristo- 
cratic patrons of the play their preservation in the Verney archives 
clearly attests. 

1 For facsimiles of French afficbes of 1630 and 1659, see Pougin, Le Theatre a 
V Exposition Universelle de 1889, pp. 17-18. 

2 For other evidence, see Quart. Mag. International Musical Society, Year V, Pt. iv, 
1904, p. 527, W. Barclay Squire's article " Purcell's Dramatic Music." 




* # * Books included in the bibliography appended to the First Series of these Studies, 
and again drawn upon, are not repeated. 

Ademollo, A. — I Primi Fasti della Musica Italiana a Parigi, 
Milan. No date. 

Akerby, George — The Life of J. Spiller, 1729. 

Angelo, Henry — Reminiscences, with Memoirs of bis late 
Father and Friends, 2 vols., 1830. 

Aubrey's Brief Lives — ed. Andrew Clark, 2 vols., 1898. 

Baker, H. Barton — Article on "England's National 
Theatre," in The Keynote for 10 July, 1886. 

Bapst, Germain — Essai sur T Histoire du Theatre, Paris, 1 893. 

Behn, Aphra — Plays, Histories, and Novels, 6 vols, 1871. 

Bell's British Theatre — 20 vols., 1776-8. 

Bell, Hamilton — "The Playhouse in the days of Shake- 
speare and Elizabeth," review in The New Tork 
Times of 13 October, 1912. 

Bibliotheca Lindesiana, Vol. v. — A Bibliography of Royal 
Proclamations, 1485-17 14, with an Essay by 
Robert Steele, Oxford, 19 10. 

Bouchard, Alfred — La Langue Thedtrale, Vocabulaire 
historique, descriptif et anecdotique des termes et des 
choses du theatre, Paris, 1878. 

Bower, G. S. — Article on "The Prologue and Epilogue 
in English Literature," in Colburns New Monthly 
Magazine for February, 1882. 

Brereton, Austin — Some Famous Hamlets, 1884. 

Bridge, Joseph C. — Article on "A great English Choir- 
trainer : Captain Henry Cooke," in The Musical 
Antiquary for January, 1 9 1 1 . 

Broadbent, R. J. — Annals of the Liverpool Stage, Liver- 
pool, 1908. 

246 Bibliography 

Brodmeier, Cecil — Die Shakespeare-Buhne nach alten 
Buhenenanweisungen, Weimar, 1904. 

Brome, Richard — Dramatic Works, 3 vols., 1873. 

Buckley, Rev. E. R. — Article on "The Elizabethan 
Playwright in his Workshop," in The Gentleman s 
Magazine for June, 1903. 

[Calcraft, J. W.] — "The Theatre Royal, Dublin, from 
1845 to i ^5 i j" anon - art - m Tbe Dublin University 
Magazine, vol. lxxiii, 1869, p. 441. 

Calendars of State Papers, Ireland, Charles II. 

Calendar of the Manuscripts of the Marquis of Ormonde, K.P. 
(Hist. MSS. Comm.), New Series — Vol. v, 1908. 

Cargill, Alexander — Article on "Shakespeare as an 
Actor," in Scribner s Magazine, vol. ix, 1 89 1, No. ^. 

Carte, Thos. — Life of James, Duke ofOrmond, 3 vols, 1 736. 

CasselTs Library of English Literature, ed. Henry Morley, 
vol. in, English Plays. No date. 

Centlivre, Susannah — Works, 3 vols, London, 1761. 

Chapman, Geo. — Comedies and Tragedies, (Pearson), 1873. 

Chouquet, Gustave — Histoire de la Musique Dramatique 
en France, 1873. 

Cohn, Albert — Shakespeare in Germany in the Sixteenth 
and Seventeenth Centuries, London, 1865. 

Collier, J. Payne — Alleyn Papers (Shakesp. Soc), 1843. 

Collins, J. Churton — Posthumous Essays, 19 12. 

Congreve, William — Works, 3 vols., London, 1753. 

Connoisseur, The — in "The British Essayists," edited by 
A. Chalmers, vol. xxv, 1823. 

Cook, Dutton — A Book of the Play, 3rd edition, 1881. 

Corbin, John — "Shakespeare, his own Stage Manager," 
The Century Magazine for December, 191 1. 

Crowne, John — Dramatic Works, edit, by Maidment and 
Logan, Edinburgh, 4 vols, 1873. 

Bibliography 247 

Cullen, Chas. — Puritanism and the Stage, paper in the 
Proceedings of the Royal Philosophical Society of 
Glasgow, xliii, 1911-2, pp. 153-81. 

Dacier, Emile — Mademoiselle Salle, 2nd ed, Paris, 1909. 

Davies, Thomas — Memoirs of David Garrick, 2 vols., 
Dublin, 1780 ; Dramatic Miscellanies, 3 vols., 
Dublin, 1784. 

Dekker, Thomas — Dramatic Works, 4 vols., 1873. 

Doran, John — Their Majesties' Servants, illustrated edition, 
edited by Robert W. Lowe, 3 vols., 1888. 

Dryden, John — Poetical JVorks, Globe edition, 1904. 

Dunlap, William — A History of the American Theatre, 
2 vols., London, 1833. 

Edinburgh Review, The — Vol. ccvn, 1908, p. 421, article 
on "Mr. Hardy's Dynasts." 

Evelyn, John — Diary and Correspondence, ed. by Wm. Bray 
and H. B. Wheatley, 4 vols., London, 1906. 

Farquhar, George — hove and Business, 1702; Comedies, 
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Felibien, Andre — Les Divertissementes de Versailles, donnez 
par le Roy a toute sa Cour, au re tour de la Conqueste 
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Fitzgerald, Percy — The World Behind the Scenes, 1881 ; 
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in The Gentleman s Magazine for June, 1900. 

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Drama, 1 559-1 642, 2 vols., 1891. 

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Gilbert, John — History of the City of Dublin, Dublin, 
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Green, J. R. — A Short History of the English People, illus- 
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24 8 Bibliography 

Harleian Miscellany ', The — Vol. x, London, 1813. 

Heywood, Thomas — Dramatic Works, 6 vols., 1874; An 
Apologie for Actors (Shakesp. Soc. reprint), 1841. 

Hitchcock, Robert — An Historical View of the Irish Stage, 
2 vols., 1788-9. 

Hone, William — Ancient Mysteries Described, 1823. 

Howard, Sir Robert — Plays, folio, 1 665 ; Five New Plays, 
2nd edition, corrected, folio, 1692. 

Ireland, Samuel — Graphic Illustrations of Hogarth, 2 vols., 

Key to The Rehearsal, The, London, 1 704. 

Jonson, Ben — Masques and Entertainments, ed. Henry 
Morley (Carisbrooke Library Series, vol. ix), 1 890. 

Knight, Joseph — David Garrick, 1894. 

Lee, Sir Sidney — Life of William Shakespeare, 1898. 

Letters of John Chamberlain — (Camden Soc), 1861. 

Letters of Humphrey Prideaux to John Ellis — (Camden Soc), 


Lenton, F. — The Toung Gallant's Whirligig, 1629. 

Lovelace, Richard — Lucasta : The Poems of Richard 
Lovelace, Esq., ed. W. Carew Hazlitt, 1864. 

Malcolm, J. P. — Anecdotes of the Manners and Customs of 
London, 1808. 

Marston, W.— "The Oldest Theatre" [Sadlers Wells], 
article in The New Tork Mirror of 30 March, 1889. 

Martin, Dr. William — "An Elizabethan Theatre 
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1913, p. 16. 

Misson's Memoirs and Observations in his Travels over 
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Moynet, M. J. — UEnvers du Theatre, Paris, 1874. 

Murphy, Arthur — Life of David Garrick, Dublin, 1 801. 

Bibliograp hy 249 

Notes and Queries, First Series, Vol. x. 

Nouveau Theatre Italien, he, ou Recueil general des comedies 
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[Nuitter, Charles] — Catalogue de F Exposition Thedtrale, 
Paris, 1878. 

O'Keeffe, John — Recollections, 2 vols, London, 1826. 

"Old-time Theatrical Expenditure," article in The Stage 
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Oxford History of Music, The — Vol. 111. (1 902). "The Music 
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Parry, Ed. Abbott — Charles Macklin (Eminent Actor 
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Perrault, M. — Parallele des anciens et des modernes en ce 
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Philips, Katharine — Letters of Orinda to Poliarchus, 
London, 2nd edition, 1709. 

Pollard, A. W. — The Macro Plays. (Early English Text 
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Pougin, Arthur — Le Theatre a V Exposition Universelle de 
1889, Paris, 1890. 

Rariora — Being notes of some of the Printed Books, 
Manuscripts, Historical Documents, Medals, 
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Elliott Hodgkin, F.S.A., 3 vols., 1907. 

Ri ceo bon 1, L. — An Historical and Critical Account of The 
Theatres in Europe, &c, London, 1741. 

Roxburghe Ballads, with short notes by Wm. Chappell — 
Vol. 1 (Ballad Society), Hertford, 1888. 

Sawyer, William — Art. on "Tags" in The Era Almanack 
for 1874. 

Serlio, Sebastiano — The Five Bookes of Architecture, made 
by Sebastian Serly, translated out of Italian into Dutch, 
and out of Dutch into English, London, folio, 161 1. 

250 Bibliography 

Shadwell, Thomas — The Best Plays of, ed. Geo. Saintsbury 
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Shakespeare Society Papers — Vol. iv, 1849. 

Simpson Richard — The School of Shakespeare, 2 vols., 

Spectator, The — Ed. Henry Morley (Routledge's Standard 

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Stowe, John — The Annales, or General Chronicle of England, 
with additions by E. Howes, folio, 1615. 

Strafford, Earl of — Letters and Dispatches, with an essay 
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Taylor, John — A Cast over the Water, 161 5. 

Tiraboschi, Girolamo — Notizie de Pittori, Scultori,Incisori, 
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Vuillier, Gaston — A History of Dancing, London, 1898. 

Wallace, C. W. — The Evolution of the English Drama up 
to Shakespeare. Berlin, 19 12. 

Walker s Hibernian Magazine for 1788. 

Whincop, Thomas — Scanderberg : or Love and Liberty, a 
Tragedy, to which are added a List of all the Dramatic 
Authors, etc., etc., London, 1747. 
--White, J. — A Rich Cabinet, with Variety of Inventions, etc., 

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Wilkinson, Robert — Londina Illustrata, 4to, 18 19. 

Wither, George — The Poetry of, edited by Frank 
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Wood, Anthony — Life and Times of, described by himself, 
ed. Andrew Clark, Oxford, 1892. 



* # * The small superior figures refer to footnotes. 

Abbey Players, The . 200 Bearers for the dead, 151, 
Abington, Mrs. ... 113 x 78-9 

Academic plays, ... 13 Beaumont and Fletcher, 14, 
Actresses, First English 1 3 7, 172, 187, 195 

1 $2 Bedchamber scenes, 3-4, 22, 
Addison, Joseph 174, 180 50, 173 

Ademollo, A 204 1 Beeston, William 188,239 

Albemarle, Duke of . 106 Behn, Aphra . 176-7, 215 

Albright, Victor E. 28,45-6 Bell, Hamilton .... 142 3 

Algarotti, Count . . . 146 Bellamy, Thos.Ludford 158 

Alleyn, Edward ... 11 1 Benefits, 86, 97 1 , 101, 143, 
Angelo, Henry .... 113 218, 220 

Announcements, Open-air Betterton, Thomas 82,138, 

57-9,61 ^ 144 1 

"Apron, The" 146, 176-7 Bindley, James .... 77 

Arne, Thomas .... 113 Blagrave, Wm 239 

Argyle, Duke of . 
Arrowsmith, Mr. 
Ashbury, Joseph . 
Ass-Epilogue, The 

2 1 8 Blanchard, Ed. Laman 1 1 1 

178 Blazing Star, The . . 19-20 

193 Book-holder, The . 16, 60 

218 2 Bouchard, Alfred 15% 187 3 

Aubrey, John . 122, 136-7 Boxes, Stage . 38-41, 170 

Authors' names on bills, Boxkeepers, ioo 3 , 109, 1 12- 

71-2 1 13, 1 18 

Brodmeier, Cecil . 27 s , 41 

Baker, H. Barton . . . 75 1 Brome, Richard . . 122-3 

Baker, G. P. ... 7 1 , 28 1 Brooke, C. F. Tucker 171 2 

Balconies, Stage ... 53 Brown, Henry (comedian) 

Bancroft, John . . 81, 241 186-7 

Bapst, Germain 141 1 y 179 5 , Buckley, Rev. E. R. . 101 1 

208 Bullock, Christopher 2 1 6-7, 

Barclay, Sir Wm. ... 122 219 

Barbarina, La ... . 230-1 Burbage, Cuthbert . . 96 

Beard, John .... 117-8 Burbage, James 96, 237,238 



Byeplays 166-7 Collins, J. Churton 62 1 , 

Calcraft, J. W 158 

Cambridge, The drama in 

60 2 
Candlesnuffer, The . . 16 

Cargill, Alex in 1 

Carleton, Sir Dudley 67-8 
Carteret, Sir Philip . . 105 
Catch-titles of plays, . 63 
Cavalli, Francesco . 204-5 
Celler, Ludovic 135 1 , 205 3 , 

Centlivre, Susannah 84 1 , 

160, 184, 186 
Chambers, E. K. . . . 171 2 
Chamberlain, John 67-8,95 
Chamberlayne, Dr. Wm. 79 
Chambre a quatre portes, 

Charlewood, John 60, 66 
Checks and Check-takers, 

1 10- 1 
Chetwood, W. R. 87, 193 
Cibber, Colley 64-5, 81-2, 

86-7, 108, 112, 146 2 , 

1 16 1 , 178, 183, 186, 196, 

Cibber, Theophilus 1 10,1 15 
Cleveland, Duchess of 143 
Cloud effects, . . . 19, 165 

Clun, Walter 75-7 

Cohn, Albert 6^ 

Coleman, Dr. Chas. . 130 
Collier, Jeremy .... 82-3 
Collier, J. Payne 62, 74, 77, 

97, 99, 101, 125, 127, 

238 1 

Congreve, W. 71, 83, 143 2 , 

l6 i> i73\ 179, 183,185 
Cook, Dutton 16 4 , 62, 74, 

137 2 , 184 2 

Cooke, Capt. Henry . 130 

Corbin, John 6-7 

Costumes,Theatrical 122-3, 

Court plays and entertain- 
ments, 5, 11-12, 19 2 , 22, 
30,122-4, 131, 135,156, 
204-5, 2 °9 
Cresset-lights, .... 13 
Cromwell, Oliver 132-3,193 
Crowds painted on scenery, 

13^ x 34-5 
Crowne, John 163 1 , 165 1 , 

!73\ J 74> 197 
Cundall, Henry ... 100 

Cunningham, Peter . 23 8 1 

Curtains, Stage 28, 30, 38- 

40, 5° 3 x 34, HO, 151, 
156, 165, 176-80 
Curtain-tune, The no, 

Dacier, Emile 89 s , 223 2 , 

230 1 
Dance, The Terminal 1 84-7 
Dancer, John .... 193-4 
D'Avenant, Sir Wm. 69 s2 , 

103, 105, 125-8, 129-39, 

144-7, l68 > r 94 
Davies, Tom . . 118, 221 
Davis, Moll .... 185-6 
Dekker, Thomas 8, 9, 97 


2 55 

Delemain, Henry . . . 230 Fell, John, Bishop of Oxford 
Dickenson, T. H. . . 3 1 197 

Dixon, Thos 195 Fencing matches in theatres, 

Dogget, Thos. . . 82, 218 2 67, 75-6 

Doors of admission, 95, Fennar, Wm 70 

97-8, 102-3, io 5 Field, Nat 50 

Doors, Entering 52-3,145, Fielding, Henry ... 112 

173, 175, 177-8, 183 Fire scenes, 21-2 

Door, The Middle . . 52 Fireworks, Stage . . 19-20 

Doors, Upper Stage 2 8,30- r Fitzgerald, Percy 76, 105 1 , 
Doran, Dr. . . . 219, 224 s no, 115 1 , 169 1 

Doubling 29 Fitzpatrick, Mr. . . n 6-8 

Downes, John .... 77 Fleay, F. G. 20, 121 1 , 172 1 , 

Dowton, Wm 88 181 1 

Dramatists, how paid, 97 1 , Fleetwood, Chas. . . 114-5 

10 1-2 Fleming, Sir Daniel . 195 

Dryden, John 71, 78-80, Foote, Sam 90 

x 3^j 139, 153, 160, Forestier, A 28 s 

172-3, 177 1 , 178-9, 185, Fournel, Victor 105 2 , 187 2 , 

188, 192, 197-200, 241 188 1 

Dreams visualized, . . 167 French comedians in Eng- 
D'Urfey, Tom . . S3, 1 83 1 land, 78, 80, 89 

T7j- u u j • o French stage li^htinor 14- r 

Edinburgh, drama in 197-8 8 & & o> *r jj 

Elliston,R.W 88 n 2 °* ru , 

■^ i-ii • r> Gamier, Charles . . . 211 

English players in Germany, ^ • 1 ta -j r 

jf Garnck, David 74, 116-7, 

"Enter Behind,'' 44, 140, ^ « " y* , . 

tt? t ? Gathering and gatherers, 

175 to & _ ' 

Epilogues, 178 ^ °°~ , ' 3 ~^ 

t r b u a c 1 Gay, lohn 224 

Evans, H. A 163 1 r- \. r> T u 1 o 

t- 1 T 1 ° Genest,Rev. ohn 147 ,218, 

Evelyn, John 127, 133, ' J + J ' 

Evelvn Mrs 7Q 180 1 Gibbons > Christopher 155 

iivelyn, ivirs. . . . 79, iao Giffardj Henry _ _ 8o 5 

Farce, English 166-7, 180 Godfrey, Walter H. 26 s , 
Farquhar, Geo. 85 1 , 171 1 , 27 s , 52 1 

186 "Goose," 182 

Farrant, Richard . 9 1 , 237 Granby, Marquis of . 59 



Grated stage boxes, . 40-1 

Greg, W. W 16 3 

Grey, Lord, of Ruthen 107 
Guerin d' Estriche, M. 222 
Gunnell, Richard ... 239 
Gwyn, Nell 79, 90, 179, 
180 1 , 185 

Habington, Wm. . 72, 124 
Half Price, Origin of 1 1 5-6 

Hallam, Thos 113 

Halliwell-Phillipps, J. O. 

l\ 9 6 
Handel, Geo. Fred. 

Hangings, Stage 

Hardouin, M. . 

Hart, Charles 

Harvey, Martin 

"Heavens, The' 

Hell scenes, 21, 136, 207, 


Henslowe, Philip 21 2 , 21 5 , 

97 1 

. . 140 
. . 8 9 3 
. . 192 
. . 230 
6-7, 27 2 

Herbert, Sir Henry 


132, 163 2 

Heywood, Thos. 5 s , 

6, 2 9 \ 


Hill, Aaron .... 


Hodgson, J. Elliot . 

• 75 

Hogarth, Wm, . 9c 

, 217 1 


Horwood, Alfred J. 

. 240 

Howard, Sir Robert 

. 78, 

163, 178 3 

Hudson, Henry . . 

. 130 

Hudson, Mrs. . . . 

. ioo 3 

Inn-yard stages, . : 



Inter-act music, .... 87 
Intermedii, 79, 134, 165-6, 

180, 204, 208 
Ireland, Saml. . . 217, 222 
Irish players in London, 200 
Irish theatrical customs, 

1 10, n i 1 , 1 15-6, 156-8, 

186-7, 193 
Irving, Washington . 158 

Jigs, 184-5 

Jones, Inigo 17, 130, 135, 

203, 208 
Jonson, Ben 5, 16 2 , 17, 29, 

44 1 , 69, 101, 155 5 , 169, 

Jordan, Thos 137 

Kean, Edmund .... 88 
Kemble, John .... 188 
Killigrew, Thos. 17, 128, 

!39> : 47> 2 39 
Kynaston, Edward ... 79 

Lacy, John 75-6, 79, 178 3 , 

Ladder scenes, . . 31, 33 
Laguerre, Jack . . 225-6 
Lamb, Charles .... 90 

Lambard, Wm 96 

Langley, Francis . . . 237 
Lansdowne, Lord . . 169 
Lawes, Henry .... 130 
Lee, Nat. . 174, 178, 183 1 , 

Leighton, Sir Ellis . . 195 

Lenton, F 14 

Lightning, Stage . . 17-9 




Lock, Matthew 130, 155-6, Military guard at theatres, 

164 106-8, 168-9 

Longueville, Viscount 107 Miracle plays, .... 58 

Lovelace, Richard ... 19 Misson, M 142 

Lowe, Robert W. 6^ 76, Mist effects, 5-6 

83, 102 2 , 103 1 , 133, 138 1 , Moliere, Jean Poquelin de 

H3 2 > H4 1 , i54 4 188, 205, 207-10, 222 1 

Lully, Jean Baptiste . 210 Monconys, Balthasar de 
Luttrell, Narcissus 83, 107 141, 145 

Moody, Henry .... 72 

Machinery, Stage 205, 207, Moralities, . . . . 99 1 , 171 

209 Morley, Prof. Henry 5 s , 69, 
Macklin, Chas. 113, 199, 86 2 

224 Moseley, H 187 

Macready, W. C. ... 88 Motteux, Peter ... 166 

Magalotti, Count . . . 154 Mountford, Wm. . 81,241 

Magnani, Signor ... 211 Multiple scenery, . . 17 1-2 

Malone, Edmond 61, 6^, Munday, Anthony . . 170 

74, 78, 85, 125-6, 240 Music, First, Second and 
Mantzius, Karl . 99, 10 1 1 , Third no, 154-7 

1 87 s Music Room, The 39, 44, 
Marlowe, Chris. . . 20, 51, 160 1 , 232 

1 7 1 3 Musicians on the stage, 159- 
Marston, John . . 15, 162 161 

Massinger, Philip 44 1 , 72 Mysteries, French . . 58 1 
Masques, Court 17, 70, 71, 

121-2, 131, 135, 143, Nabbes, Thos 121 

145, 155-6, 163, 179 Nashe, Thos 63 

Masques in plays, . 4 1 , 5 s , Newcastle, Duke of 79, 124 

1 6 1-6 Nichols, Humphrey . 20 

Masques, Programmes for Night scenes, .... 7, 28 

70-1 Nuitter, Chas. 142 4 , 207 1 , 
Mayne, Jasper .... 10 1 209 1 , 212 

Mazarin, Cardinal . . 204 "Numberer, The" . . 113 
Melton, John .... 18 

Middlemore, Richard 107 Ogilby, John . . 193, 239 

Middleton, Thos. 15, 27, O'Keeffe, John . 157, 186 

162-3, 1 7 1 4 O. P. and P. S 209 




Opera, English 129-38, 144- 

^5^5 6 -7y l6 ^ i79> 22 4 
Opera, Italian 125, 127, 130, 

i33> 146, i55> 2 °4, 207 
Orangewoman, The 89-91 

"Orator, The" (French) 


Orchestra, The .... 160 

Orders, no 

Ordish, T. F. 16 1 , 26 1 , 238 

Ormond, First Duke of 

i9 2 "5> T 97, 199 
Orrery, Lord ... 78, 164 

Otway,Thos. 1 60, 1 67, 1 73 1 , 

174, i77 ? l8 5* 
Oxford, Drama in 13,, 171 3 


Pantomime, English 114-8, 
166, 224 

Partial change, The, prin- 
ciple of 135-6 

Pepys, Saml. 17, 29 2 , 75-6, 
78, 102, 105, in, 137, 

i39> Hi, H4-5> I 54 4 ) 
180, 185-7, 206, 238-9 

Percy, Wm 62 

Perrault, M T 4- : 5 

Pesne, Antoine .... 230 

Philips,Katharine 1 80, 1 93-4 

Pinkethman, Wm. 86, 215, 

Pit, The standing 96, 14 1-2 
Pit, The seated . . . 14 1-3 
Plays given out, 72, 187-8 

Pollard, A. W 99 1 

Posters, theatrical, Origin of 


Posters, Early French 71, 

80, 88, 89" 
Pougin, Arthur 168 1 , 206 1 , 

207 2 , 24 1 1 
Prayers after plays, . . 61 
Prices, Advanced ... 114 
Prideaux, Humphrey 192 
Private Theatres, Charac- 
teristics of 8-9, 1 1-3, 15, 
72, 169 
Prologues and Epilogues as 

broadsides, 79 
Proscenium arch, The §i>y 

* 2I > i3 x > !34> i5 6 > 2o6 
Purcell, Henry .... 81 

Quin, James . . 199, 221 
Quinault, Philippe 1 94, 2 1 o 

Raleigh, Sir Walter . 193 
Raphael, The divine . 203 
Ravenscroft, Edward 166, 

Reynolds, G. F. . . 1, 43 
Rich, John 108, 144 1 , 216, 

218-9, 22I 5 22 5 
Riccoboni, Luigi . . 221-3 
Rigal, Eugene 59 1 , 60 1 , in 2 
Rimmel, Eugene ... 89 4 

1 1 7-8 
. 106 

Riots, Theatrical . 
Rogers, John . . . 
Roman stage, The 

Rose, Mrs 

Rowe, Nicholas . . 


J 75 

11 2 , 

Sabbattini, Nicolo 11^ 
12 2 , 17 1 , 18 1 , 22 

Salle, Mile 222-3 

Sawyer, Wm 182 1 

Index 259 

Scene painting, Rise of 203 Steele, Sir Richard . . 54 

Scenery, First English mov- Steevens, George . . 61, 69 

able 1 2 1-3 Sterne, Laurence ... 115 

Scenery, First Irish movable "Study, The" .... 51 2 

194 Suckling, Sir John 122,172 

Scenery on paper, 2 10- n Supernumeraries, 18, 159 

Schelling, Felix E. . 5 1 , 13 Symcocks, Thos. ... 66 
Sedley, Sir Chas. ... 79 

Serenade scenes, ... 33 Tableaux-Endings, Origin 

Serlio, Sebastiano . 17-9,22 of 151, 164, 176 

Settle, Elkanah 136 1 , 165, Tags, 180-4 

170 Tarleton, Will 225 

"Shadow, The" . . . 6-7 Taylor, John 70 

Shadwell, Chas 109 Tennis-courts as theatres, 

Shadwell, Thos. 53, 86, 90, 139, 14 1-2, 144, 197 

105, 155 3 , 156, 161, 166, Text-bills for plays, .61-2 

186, 209 

Shakespeare, Wm. 64, 66, THEATRES 

96, ici, 159, 162, 171, 

l8l, 184, l88, 23O 

Shirley, James 6^^ 143, 147, Blackfriars, The first 9 1 , 1 1- 

. i55> l82 > l8 4 12, 237 

Siddons, Mrs 118 Blackfriars, The second 5 s , 

Smoke, Theatrical use of 5 7, 10, 12-14, 16, 4 i_ 5j 

Sorbieres, 141, 154, 47, 50, 72, 100, 122, 126, 

168 155, 158, 238 

Southerne, Thos. . . . 174 1 Cockpit, Drury Lane 3-4, 

Spectators on the stage, 168- 7 3 , 39, 46, 52, 78, 106, 

170 122,128,132-8,184,238 

Spencer, Sir John . . 69 Curtain, 237 

Spiller, James . . . 215-26 Fortune, The first 6, 18, 26, 

Squire, W. Barclay 8 1 2 , 240 27 s , 27 s , 28 s , 125 1 , 143, 

Stage, The Rear 1-4, 10, 238 

139-40, 175 Fortune, The second 9, 132, 

Stage, The Upper 25-31,34, 239 

36, 39, 44-5, 49 Globe, The first 7,26,30-1, 

Stapylton, Sir Robert 153, 36-7, 51-2, 95, 238 

1 64 Globe,The second 9, 42, 238 



Hope, . . . . 7, 95 1 , 238 
Newington Butts, . . 237 
Paul's, 7, 15-6, 34,237 ' 
Phoenix (see Cockpit) 
Red Bull, 8-9, 19-20, 22, 

29> 35, 36 1 , 75" 6 > " 1\ 

138-9, 191, 238 
Rose, The 7 s , 10, 34, 170, 

182, 237 
Salisbury Court, 14, 16, 19, 

21, 52, 100, 121-2, 128, 

138, 239 
Swan, The 6-7, 67-70, 97 s , 

9 8 > H3> 2 37 
Theater, The 95 1 , 96, 237 

Vere Street, 76, 137-41,143, 


Werburgh Street, Dublin, 

Whitefriars, . . . 22, 238 


Covent Garden, 88-9, 117, 

Drury Lane, 53, 75-7, 81, 
84-8,90, 106, 108, 1 13-5, 

I57>i7°>i7 8 > l8 5- 8 >i97 3 

230, 240 
Duke's Theatre (Lincoln's 
Inn Fields), 72, 78, 102, 

128, 137-9, H4\ H5" 6 > 
Duke's Theatre (Dorset 
Gardens), 84, 90, 104, 
138, 142 2 , 143 2 , 145, 160, 
178, 209, 240 

Goodman's Fields, 6^, 80 5 

Haymarket, 143 

King's (or Queen's) Theatre, 

Haymarket, 85, 109 
Lincoln's Inn Fields (1695- 

1733), 7 1 , 81, 83, 108, 

144 1 , 166,216-22,224-5 
Queen's Theatre, Dorset 

Gardens (see Duke's, 

Theatre Royal, Bridge St., 

l 7> 53, 7 6 ~7, 8o > io 3"4> 
125 1 , 141, 160, 164, 172- 

173, 188, 192 


Belfast, 158 

Birmingham, 58 

Dublin, 64, no, ii 5-6, 
156-8, 193-5, 229-34, 

2 39 
Grantham, 59 

Norwich, 58 

Preston, 200 


American, x 5^~9 

French, 14-5, 88, 141-2, 

179% 2 °4> 206-7, 209, 


German, 6^ 

Italian, . n 1 , 12, 204, 206 
Spanish, 96 1 

Theatre building, Early 141 

Theobald, Lewis 218 2 , 224 

Thunder and Thunderbolts, 

Stage 17-9 



Tiraboschi, Girolamo 204 1 , 

Tireman, The .... 15-6 
Tiring-house, The 18, 26-8, 

45i 53 

Tiring-room, The ... 29 

" Titles, Long-tailed " 63-4 

Tomb scenes, 4 

Torelli, Giacomo . . 204-5 

Traps, Stage 21 

Trumpet-blasts, The three 

Tunes called for, 87, 157-8 

" Twelvepenny hirelings," 


Unlocated scenes, 


Vennar, Richard . . 68-71 
Verney, Sir Ralph . . 241 

Vexillators, 57-8 

Victor, Benjamin 108, 1 15 1 , 

117, 218, 222, 226 
Views of theatres, 6-7, 10, 

^5> °-$> 2 9, 45> 9 8 , f °4 2 5 
106, 143, 147 1 , 237,239 

Vigarani, Carlo 203, 206- 

Vigarani, Gaspare 203-7, 

2 1 1-2 

"Vivat Rex" on bills, 61, 

81, 241 
Vuillier, Gaston . . . 230 2 

Wall-storming effects, . 53 
Walker, Tom . . . 224-5 
Wallace, Chas. W. 9 1 , 

1 6" 

97 2 , 

l 55> 2 37 

Water theatres, . 
Watts, Sir John . 
Webbe, John . . . 
Wegener, Richard 
Wharton, Duke of 
Wheatcn, Elizabeth 
Whincop, Thos. 





2 7 2 



Whitelock, Sir Bulstrode 


Wilkinson, Tate . . . 58-9 

Wilks, Robert 86, 112, 199 

Wilson, Robert 5 

Wither, George 9, n 1 , 13- 

Woffington, Margaret 90, 

^199, 229-30 
Women as gatherers, . 100 
Wood, Anthony 19 1-2, 197 

Wood, Roger 66 

W T right, James 9, 138, 141 
Wycherley, William . 143 

Yard, The 142 




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